'Someone could easily have been killed': Cadia mine safety queried

CADIA Valley Operation (CVO) has dismissed a worker’s claims safety is being comprised after two “potentially fatal” vehicle collisions occurred within a year. 

A safety alert was issued last month after a collision between a light vehicle and a loader last year at Ridgeway but no safety alert has been issued after a second collision in similar circumstances in October at Cadia East. 

A safety alert is issued to employees and made available to the public by NSW Trade and Investment after an investigation into a “safety incident” is completed. 

An employee contacted the Central Western Daily recently with concerns about the lack of communication following the second incident in which, he said, “someone could have easily been killed”.

The employee, who asked not to be named, said he wanted to know why CVO and the department had not issued a safety alert about the second collision.

He said because of the lack of transparency he felt workers’ safety had been compromised. 

CVO told the Central Western Daily, in both cases, the NSW mine safety inspector was notified immediately and CVO co-operated with all investigations. 

A Newcrest spokesperson said CVO conducted its own internal investigations of all safety-related incidents to determine the root causes of incidents and actions to prevent further problems. 

A report by the NSW Trade and Investment mine safety department was described as “scathing” by the employee.

The report on the collision at Ridgeway said the light vehicle driver made no attempt to contact the loader driver, the rotating beacon light on the vehicle was off, the “bogging-in-process” warning light - which requires contact with the loader operator before advancing - was not in use, the light vehicle driver did not follow written safe work procedures and the passenger of the light vehicle was not wearing a seatbelt. 

The two people in the light vehicle escaped with minor injuries. 

A NSW Trade and Investment spokesperson said safety alerts were not issued for every reported incident at mines. 

“NSW Trade and Investment issues a safety alert following the occurrence of an event such as a fatal accident, dangerous occurrence and an incident which is considered to be of significance to the industry.

“All mining-defined incidents reportable to the Department of Trade and Investment are investigated according to an internal protocol.

“It considers the risk factors associated with the event, the inspection and compliance history of the mine and the frequency of similar events within the mining industry as a whole.”

CVO general manager Tony McPaul said employees’ safety was the top priority for CVO and no one was seriously injured in either collision. 

“These incidents have provided us with a valuable opportunity to re-evaluate some of our systems and build a more robust defence against further similar accidents,” he said.

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