Mine site structures under fire after collapse in QLD

Mine site structures under fire after collapse in QLD

Structures on Queensland mine sites are likely to be the focus for the state’s safety regulator, after a workshop and large shed was flattened in a storm in the state last week.

Several buildings at the Peak Downs Mine, operated by BHP, were destroyed in a storm that cut through the Bowen Basin region on Friday. 

According to the CFMEU’s Steve Smythe, the incident shows that companies need to revisit how buildings and other structures are rated, in particular those in open areas that may be affected by strong winds. 

“The only shining light out of this was no-one was injured, which is great,” Mr Smythe said.

“Our safety reps were out there yesterday having a look around, but certainly there’s going to have to be a rethink not just of Peak Downs but across the industry with storm season on the way.”

Mr Smythe explained that many of the structures are put up as temporary or quick build structures and that they’re akin to a backyard shed on a larger scale. 

“Companies and contractors have gone and put these in place as a stop-gap measure but, as with anything, they end up staying there as a full-time structure for trucks and people to work in and under,” he said. 

It is common practice in the industry for companies to conduct their own audits, Mr Smythe explained. He believes that the Mines Department should be carrying out their own inspections to ensure all sites have safe structures for workers and information on appropriate standards.

“A couple of years ago we had dongas, or crib rooms, which turned over in storms at the Jelinbah Mine, which resulted in people being caught in the crib rooms,” he said. 

“People are aware of this and normally tie them down, but there needs to be a more concerted effort done to ensure they are secure, and people will not be put at risk.” 

BHP has said that a clean-up is taking place and that the safety systems it has in place mean that its staff were prepared and there were no injuries. 

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