Union slams Middlemount response
The mining union has lashed out at the “unacceptable” response to a fatality in a Queensland mine.
The CFMEU says it took several hours for rescuers to reach a man trapped by a collapsed wall at the Middlemount open-cut coal mine, north-west of Rockhampton.
Union spokesperson Steve Smyth said some emergency crews had to travel from Mackay — almost three hours away — to reach miner David Routledge.
Their efforts were also hampered by continued unstable conditions at the site.
Mr Smyth said Middlemount Coal and other companies need better on-site response and rescue.
“Minutes are important in any emergency and to be relying on a response from two and a half to three hours away is totally unacceptable,” he told the ABC.
“It should be up to the employer to have that response on-site ready to go each and every shift that coal is being produced.
“We hear employees come out and say safety is our number one priority, well it might be in the boardroom but at the coal face it's not.”
Mr Routledge’s death is the fifth mining fatality in Queensland in the past 12 months, three of which were at coal mines.
Mr Smyth said all Queensland mines should review safety and debrief staff.
“Every mine should be doing a reset at their mines, talking to their employees and looking at what's going on,” he said.
“The next morning, mines just kicked away as normal and some of the mines didn't even have debriefs of what happened.
“Even though it’s not directly related to that mining company, the mining industry is a close-knit community and people feel the ripple effects.”
Middlemount Coal chief executive Gerrie Jordann says the company takes safety seriously.
“A full investigation is currently underway and we are cooperating fully with this process,” he said.
“Our focus remains on the welfare of David Routledge's family, friends and colleagues, and supporting them during this difficult time.”
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the Queensland Government would does not want to see another tragedy.
“I am extremely concerned that there have been five mining and quarry worker deaths in the last 12 months,” he said in a statement.
“My office is working with the Mines Inspectorate and the Department to determine the best means by which we can [prevent more].”
Workplace Health and Safety authorities are investigating.