Safety measures that could have been put in place to help prevent a tragic workplace death of Kevin Harney at a zinc refinery have been revealed.
Safety measures that could have been put in place to help prevent a tragic workplace death of Kevin Harney at a zinc refinery have been revealed.

Business accused of deadly safety fail that killed dad

Details of the safety measures that could have helped prevent a tragic workplace death at the city's zinc refinery can be revealed.

Allegations brought forward by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland against Sun Metals Corporation Pty Ltd list the "control measures" the company could have implemented to prevent the death of father Kevin Harney, 41, who died after being trapped under a hydraulic arm at the refinery at Stuart in May 2015.

In court documents obtained by the Townsville Bulletin, WHSQ allege Mr Harney, a roasting operator, was tasked with unloading product from train wagons and went to physically fix a fault, when he lost contact with a colleague operating in the upstairs control room who could not see him.

It is alleged Sun Metals failed to provide adequate two-way communication at all times between the upstairs and downstairs operators, particularly when working in different areas, and a lack of warning of automated start and movement of the hydraulic arm were identified among 15 other faults.

Ensuring workers could not access the immediate area of the automated plant, where equipment could start up without warning was also identified.

The installation of an alarm when the hydraulic arm lowers, video surveillance to increase coverage of the workplace and an overhead walkway were identified as practical safety features.

Mr Harney and his partner Narelle Kong were just months away from marrying when he died.

"We just want closure, we want the company to be held accountable," Ms Kong said.

"We've been destroyed, it's been almost five years of waiting for answers.

"He was supposed to come home from that shift and we were supposed to be sending out wedding invitations … I still cry myself to sleep."

Court proceedings are ongoing after several lengthy adjournments dating back to 2017.

"It's wrong. These cases should be closed quicker. It's not fair to the family and we've got to keep suffering and suffering," Ms Kong said.

Sun Metals has been charged with one count of failure to comply with health and safety duty category 2, and if prosecuted faces a fine of up to $1.5 million.


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