Report author Dr Sean Brady noted the six fatalities that occurred between July 2018 and July 2019 had been described by some in the industry, media and politics as evidence of an “industry in crisis”.
Report author Dr Sean Brady noted the six fatalities that occurred between July 2018 and July 2019 had been described by some in the industry, media and politics as evidence of an “industry in crisis”.

Miner’s broken dad slams ‘shocking’ review findings

A REVIEW of every fatal accident at the state's mines and quarries over the past 20 years has found the mining industry's own fatalistic view of itself as a "hazardous industry" is helping keep things that way.

The review, ordered by the State Government following a spate of mine deaths, found a large number of deaths happened when a worker was in a preventable situation they were inadequately trained for, with the controls meant to protect them being ineffective, unenforced or absent, and with no or inadequate supervision.

The father of experienced tyre fitter Donald Rabbitt, who died at Blackwater's Curragh mine on January 12, has described the review's findings as "shocking".

Robin Rabbitt still does not know how his son died, but believes rules and regulations in Queensland's mining industry are not being followed at sites.

"I think there's too much emphasis on production and bonuses for the bosses and because of that, in my opinion, I think they shortcut on safety," Mr Rabbit said.

"If these deaths continue to go on to help the bottom line of a big company, I think that's disgusting."

Report author Dr Sean Brady noted the six fatalities that occurred between July 2018 and July 2019 had been described by some in the industry, media and politics as evidence of an "industry in crisis".

Goondiwindi man Donald Rabbitt was killed at Blackwater's Curragh mine on January 12, 2020.
Goondiwindi man Donald Rabbitt was killed at Blackwater's Curragh mine on January 12, 2020.

"But a bleaker assessment is that this is an industry resetting itself to its normal fatality rate," Dr Brady wrote.

His report found both the mining industry and public appeared to expect mining to be dangerous.

"This fatalism may be the biggest stumbling block to preventing the industry taking the next step," it said.

Dr Brady made 11 recommendations including asking the industry to recognise the causes of fatalities were not simply "human error, bad luck, or freak accidents", which had the potential to mask underlying system failures.

A look at the 47 deaths found 17 involved no human error at all, 17 involved a lack of training, 10 involved faults people were aware of but had not fixed and nine fatalities were in situations where near-misses had happened before the death. In some cases, it was not the first time a death had happened in a similar way.

The majority involved at least one failed or absent control that could have prevented the death.

The state's regulator was also criticised for its "cumbersome, ambiguous and difficult-to-use" incident reporting system that encouraged under-reporting.

The report found unless the industry made significant changes, the fatality rate was likely to continue at current levels.

Attendees at the official unveiling and service for the Moranbah Miners' Memorial
Attendees at the official unveiling and service for the Moranbah Miners' Memorial

"Past behaviour suggests that in the order of 12 fatalities are likely to occur over any five-year period," it said.

"If the industry continues to take a similar approach to safety, using the same philosophies and methodologies adopted over the past 19-and-a-half years, then similar safety outcomes are to be expected."

Early findings obtained by the Daily Mercury last month stated Donald Rabbitt was fatally injured while changing a tyre and rim.

"The tyre fitter was found trapped underneath a wheel assembly," it read.

But with the investigation ongoing, Mr Rabbitt wants to meet with Mines Minister Anthony Lynham.

"I'd like to have a meeting with the mines minister," he said.

"I'm waiting for reports and feedback as to what actually happened to my son, because I still don't know.

"The fathers, mothers and families of the other guys who have been killed - I hope they know what has happened to their sons - that's just a right."

Mr Lynham said he would be honoured to meet with Mr Rabbitt and would make arrangements for a suitable date and time.

"The health and safety of mine workers is paramount for the Palaszczuk Government," he said.

"Any death in our resources workplaces is unacceptable."


Industry calls ‘to open up Australia to Australians’

premium_icon Industry calls ‘to open up Australia to Australians’

Eased restrictions have been welcomed by tourism operators but some say more is...

State’s new cases as restrictions ease further

State’s new cases as restrictions ease further

No new cases in Queensland as more restrictions are lifted

REVEALED: How the sunny Whitsundays will fare this winter

premium_icon REVEALED: How the sunny Whitsundays will fare this winter

Winter officially arrived today but the forecast for the coming months tells a...