Daniel Springer was fatally struck while working at a CQ mine.
Daniel Springer was fatally struck while working at a CQ mine.

Coroner finds mine death ‘a tragic accident’

A coroner has ruled the death of contract boilermaker Daniel Springer at a CQ mine "a tragic accident".

The 30 year old father died on August 5, 2017 while removing a damaged curved external wear plate from an excavator bucket onsite at BMA's Goonyella Riverside mine.

An Independent Mining Services worker, Mr Springer had been cutting a 2m x 3.4m wear plate into smaller pieces when a section sprang out 1.15m, due to stored energy, fatally striking him in the head.

Daniel Springer, who died in August 2017 at a CQ mine, was described by his sister as more teeth than face when he smiled.
Daniel Springer, who died in August 2017 at a CQ mine, was described by his sister as more teeth than face when he smiled.

A five-day inquest, under Coroner Nerida Wilson, heard it was the first time this type of work had been performed onsite at the mine and that the bucket had not been fully inspected prior to Mr Springer starting work.

The section Mr Springer had been removing, which was near a large visible tear, had not been closely inspected.

"At inquest I found a complete lack of industry knowledge within the mining and welding sectors regarding spring-back to the degree described in this event," Coroner Wilson said in her findings.

Related:

Mine death inquest: 'Our hearts are broken'

BMA bans large wear plates after miner's death

"The dimension of the spring back in this case was unprecedented.

"Daniel's death is a tragic accident. Without knowing the inherent risk no control measure could have mitigated against the unprecedented magnitude of the spring-back in this instance."

Coroner Wilson found Mr Springer would not have been aware of any spring back risk because the situation was so new.

"I am left in no doubt that had Daniel known and understood the risks he would not have proceeded as he did," Coroner Wilson said.

Photo of work platform Independent Mining Services worker Daniel Springer was working on and the bucket from which he was removing wear plates when he died in August 2017 at Goonyella Riverside Mine.
Photo of work platform Independent Mining Services worker Daniel Springer was working on and the bucket from which he was removing wear plates when he died in August 2017 at Goonyella Riverside Mine.

 

"Daniel himself did not have, and could not have, an appreciation of the risk or potential for a spring-back event to 1.15 metres because he had no understanding of the prevailing factors and how those factors would impact the behaviour of the metal he was working with.

"Daniel had no time to react so as to avoid the risk of injury."

Coroner Wilson noted that although qualified to do the work, Mr Springer had not completed hot work training at the mine.

"I am however critical of the failure to ensure compliance with the contract management system," she said.

Related:

INQUEST: Origin of wear plates linked to CQ mine death

Excavator bucket linked to mine death not fully examined

A key recommendation within the findings was for all mines to ensure their Safety and Health Management Systems included an effective risk management process before any modifications were carried out on plants and equipment.

Coroner Wilson has also recommended the Department of Natural Resources and Mining issue a statewide safety notice alerting the industry that the hazard of spring-back was not limited to excavator buckets and applied to a range of equipment deformed or damaged by wear "increasing the potential for violent release of metal during removal process".

Since Mr Springer's death, large wear plates have been banned across all BMA sites. Coroner Wilson also recommended if any modifications to plant and equipment changed the original equipment manufacturer's design the mine must consult with the OEM or an appropriate expert before the work is carried out.

Daniel Springer with his sisters Emma Niven and Cristi Springer. Daniel was killed in a tragic workplace incident at BMA's Goonyella Riverside mine.
Daniel Springer with his sisters Emma Niven and Cristi Springer. Daniel was killed in a tragic workplace incident at BMA's Goonyella Riverside mine.

 

While this may prevent future deaths of this type in the mining industry, it is a bittersweet outcome for the Springer family.

"Our main focus that came out of (the findings) was that Daniel isn't to blame whatsoever," Mr Springer's sister Cristi Springer said.

Boilermaker Daniel Springer had been removing wear plates from this excavator bucket when he died after a section he had been removing sprang up striking him in the head.
Boilermaker Daniel Springer had been removing wear plates from this excavator bucket when he died after a section he had been removing sprang up striking him in the head.

 

Related:

CQ mine death equipment a 'ticking time bomb'

But Ms Springer said she was frustrated to hear no one was at fault "because of all the other mistakes that happened leading up to it".

"We've had to wait for Daniel to basically set the precedent," she said.

"We won't get justice for Daniel's death but if it happened to another family maybe they'll get justice."

Wife Carmela Springer was relieved the findings were out and said she was glad the coroner did on lay blame on anyone.

"It confirmed things … I already knew," she said.

"It wasn't Daniel's fault, deep down that's something I always knew would be the case."

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