$70,000 fine for Pilbara iron death
An iron ore company linked to Rio Tinto has been hit with a $70,000 fine over the “foreseeable” death of mine worker in Western Australia's Pilbara region.
Twenty-seven-year-old Brent Glew was crushed to death in 2011 while removing a tilt cylinder from a loader at the Brockman 2 mine.
He was working in a mobile equipment maintenance workshop at the time.
The mine was operated by Pilbara Iron – a subsidiary of Riot Tinto.
The company was charged by the Department of Mines and Petroleum over the death, and pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe working environment for its employees in early 2015.
A sentencing hearing late last week heard Magistrate Elizabeth Woods’s view that while Pilbara Iron was not responsible for Mr Glew's death, the company did not do enough to prevent it.
“This is not something out of the ordinary ... the hazards were foreseeable,” she said.
“The accused must protect employees from risk.”
The Magistrate noted that a similar incident resulting in the injury of a worker occurred just two months prior to Mr Glew's death.
The company was moving to bring in policy changes, but had not done so by August 2011.
Magistrate Woods also found that the job of removing a tilt cylinder was “high-risk”, which therefore required a high-risk licence.
But she found that none of the crew at the time of Mr Glew's death was properly licensed.
They reportedly decided to use an alternative method to remove the cylinder in an attempt to save time.
“They were unaware it would create more hazards,” she said.
She found that the team made an error in judgment, but they were not told how to do the job properly.
The company has accepted a fine $70,000 and an order to pay $5,000 in court costs.
Rio Tinto's Pilbara mines managing director Michael Gollschewski has issued a statement saying Rio would learn from the tragic incident and make changes.
“Rio Tinto accepts that it failed to effectively manage the hazards associated with the task Brent was undertaking,” Mr Gollschewski said.
“We have made several changes that will help to eliminate workplace deaths and introduced a number of safety improvement programs.
“We want everyone to go home safe and healthy every day.
“We regret that these changes were only identified and made following Brent's death.
“Personally, and on behalf of the company, I wish to extend our sincerest condolences to Brent's family.”