BHP Billiton and Contractor Fined for Fatal Accident

Mining giant BHP Billiton, along with its subcontractor HWE Newman Services have been fined more than $230,000 for the death of a staff member in the Yandi mine in Western Australia in 2008.

The mobile maintenance supervisor, Paul Sparkes, was hit by the arm of a tyre handler device. The cause of death was determined to be the overinflated heavy earth mover tyre, which caused the arm to spring off and hit Sparkes.

The subsequent investigation and prosecution were led by the Department of Mines and Petroleum (‘DMP’). In April 2013, the Perth Magistrates Court found both companies guilty of failing to provide a safe working environment. Additionally, the judgment found that Sparkes had not received sufficient training for the task.

While subcontractor HWE Newman Services was found to have primary responsibility and find $136,000, BHP was also found culpable and fined $102,000. BHP has owned HWE Mining since 2011.

Safety Executive Director of DMP Simon Ridge said that the majority of mining companies are operating to high safety standards. However, he added, there are always situations where more has to be done for safety and health. Ridge added that government, companies, and workers had to work together to create workplaces of ‘zero harm’.

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