WA coal mining company fined $210K for Collie worker’s death

Ailish DelaneyBunbury Herald
Griffin Coal was fined $210,000 over the death of a Collie worker on the Ewington mine site in 2018.
Camera IconGriffin Coal was fined $210,000 over the death of a Collie worker on the Ewington mine site in 2018. Credit: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

A major WA coal mining company has been fined $210,000 over the death of a worker at a Collie mine site in 2018.

Worker Neville Bentley was fatally injured at the Griffin Coal Ewington mine site while he attempted to stop a tracked mobile shovel when a hydraulic ladder was activated, causing it to pin him against a fixed handrail.

He was unable to be resuscitated by co-workers and paramedics.

Griffin Coal pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrate’s Court for failing to provide and maintain a safe environment for its employees.

The decision sparked calls from the Collie community for tougher penalties, with people expressing their frustrations online, claiming the fine was “disgraceful” and “not good enough”.

A Griffin Coal spokesman said the company extended its “sincere condolences” to Mr Bentley’s family.

The company promptly took steps to ensure the incident would not be repeated and pleaded guilty to a charge that it failed to take all reasonably practicable actions to prevent the incident.

Griffin Coal

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union WA division secretary Greg Busson said he was disappointed with the outcome and said there was a need for change in safety culture.

“It’s still a travesty in this day and age that we send people to work and they don’t come home,” Mr Busson said.

Trying to put a price on someone’s life is impossible.

Greg Busson

“People take their fine and it doesn’t lead to any change in safety culture, so I think the industrial manslaughter legislation that is being proposed has to continue so people are made accountable.”

Mr Busson said it was “business as usual” for companies after they paid a fine, but the families and communities suffered for a long time.

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety director of mines safety Andrew Chaplyn said the incident was an important reminder that mining companies needed to make safety a priority.

“This incident highlights the need for mining companies to conduct ongoing risk assessments and to implement the recommended order of control measures’,” Mr Chaplyn said.

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