Mine operator fined after worker's toe amputated

A mining company has been convicted and fined $30,000 after a worker was injured by an unguarded machine at a gold mine in Woods Point.


Morning Star Gold NL was sentenced in the Mansfield Magistrates' Court last Wednesday after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to provide or maintain plant that was safe and without risks to health.

The company was also ordered to pay $4,098 in costs.

In November 2020, an experienced worker was using a pneumatically powered machine known as a double drum scraper to stockpile rubble that had been blasted from a heading within the mine.

The task involved operating levers connected to wire ropes that dragged a scraper bucket back and forth along the ground.

As the worker momentarily paused operating the scraper to explain a safety risk to a trainee, a loose strand of wire rope tightened around his foot, ripping off the steel cap of his gumboot and taking part of his big toe with it.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable for Morning Star Gold to have installed guarding to prevent access to the scraper's wire rope and drum.

WorkSafe Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the failure to make a relatively inexpensive safety fix to older equipment had left the worker with a life-changing injury.

"The risks of entanglement or entrapment should be well known to all employers using machines in their workplace," Dr Beer said.

"There is no excuse for failing to properly identify hazards associated with moving and rotating machinery and regularly assess the adequacy of available control measures."

To reduce the risk of mining plant entanglement or entrapment, operators should:

  • Perform a risk assessment, which includes consulting with employees, to identify all potential hazards and assess the adequacy of available control measures on moving and rotating plant.
  • Ensure adequate guarding is installed on moving and rotating plant which pose a risk to employee health and safety.
  • Review the adequacy of plant guarding and, if necessary, revise the need for the use of such plant.
  • Ensure pre-task inspections of plant include checking for adequate guarding where applicable.
  • Ensure employees are provided with information, training and instruction about how to identify hazards associated with moving and rotating plant, and how to safely operate the plant.