Bundaberg Miner Killed When Trapped In Moving Machinery

Open cut coal mine Hunter Valley

It has been revealed that a Bundaberg mine worker died after he was trapped inside moving machinery within an excavator at the Baralaba North Coal Mine in July.  

According to a mine safety alert, the Mount Perry man had activated the emergency release before his death.  

A Queensland inspector of mines told the Daily Mercury safety alert 366, released earlier this month, referred to Bundaberg miner Jack Gerdes.

The alert revealed Gerdes was killed when he got caught up in the moveable part of an excavator's access ladder and its engine room.

"While the Mines Inspectorate's investigation is ongoing, it appears the operator somehow became caught within (a) handrail cell,” the report said.

"When the ladder was lowered, following activation of the emergency ladder release valve... the operator sustained injuries from the moving handrails.

"The emergency release valve is intended to be operated by a pull cable (and) positioned in a safe location.

"The investigation has identified that this valve can be activated without the use of the pull cable, which was found to be difficult to operate.

"For routine operation, the access ladder is lowered using a set of controls, positioned in a non-hazardous area.

Recommendations Include:

Although procedure (an administrative control) required the access ladder to be lowered through a safe process and location, it was physically possible to access the emergency ladder release valve.

An engineering control would have been more effective in keeping persons away from this location e.g. by positioning the valve in a place that is not accessible or by covering it.

The design of the access ladder, where the rotating handrails pass the stationary handrails in a scissor action, should be reviewed.

Refer to Komatsu 'Parts & Service News subject: "Hydraulically operated access”; Emergency release function, No AH19881; 18 July 2019'.