Silence to honour lost miners


A safety ‘reset’ across the Queensland mining industry this week will start with six minutes’ silence to honour six lives lost in the past year – including four coal miners: Jack Gerdes, David Routledge, Bradley Hardwick and Allan Houston.

Starting on Monday 22 July, all Queensland mines will stop production to run through a safety reset program that includes discussion about each site’s safety history, performance and particular hazards. The program has been developed collaboratively by the Queensland Government, employers and the union.

The resets will take place over several days to ensure workers on every shift can participate.

Queensland President Stephen Smyth said the Union had been calling for a reset since the tragic death of Allan Houston on New Year’s Eve.

“Each fatality has a specific cause. But we have been worried for some time that the safety culture across our industry has been declining as our industry is casualised and production is valued above all else.

“This reset won’t solve the problem. But it is a good start. It is an opportunity for every mineworker to have their say and I encourage everyone to take the opportunity to raise their concerns about safety at work.”

The Union has been surveying Queensland members ahead of the safety reset. Key findings include:

  • Coal miners identified the biggest threats to their safety at work as ‘Production valued over safety’ and ‘workers scared to report issues’.
  • A majority did not believe that managers treat safety as a top priority.
  • Almost nine in ten coal miners believed casualisation of jobs at their site was compromising safety. As one respondent said: “People need permanent jobs to be confident.”

Members will be sent full survey results.

Steve Smyth is interviewed about the safety reset – make your voice heard:

Queensland coal mining deaths this year:

  • On 31 December 2018 – New Year’s Eve – Allan Houston a 49-year-old dozer operator was fatally injured at Saraji Coal Mine, when the bulldozer he was driving went over the bench’s crest and rolled downwards approximately 20 metres, coming to rest on its roof in an area of mud and water approximately two metres deep.
  • On 20 February 2019 Bradley Hardwick a 48-year-old grader operator was fatally injured at Moranbah North Coal Mine when a grader exiting an underground coal mine rolled down the drift and collided with a man transporter.
  • On 26 June 2019 David Routledge a 55-year-old excavator operator at Middlemount Coal Mine was fatally injured while he was operating an excavator.
  • On 7 July 2019 Jack Gerdes, 27-year-old, got entangled in stairs while working on machinery at Baralaba coal.

They went to work, not to die. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of Allan, Bradley, David and Jack.

 


Back to issue: July 2019