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Solid Energy fined over miner’s serious injury

Solid Energy fined over miner’s serious injury

Failing to protect a miner from a large block of falling coal at Solid Energy’s Spring Creek mine in July last year has cost the company a fine of $71,283.56 and reparations to the victim of $46,000.

The company pleaded guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act and was sentenced today at the Greymouth District Court.

The experienced miner was working underground cutting a connection between two parallel roadways when the large block of coal fell on the back of his neck and body, knocking him to the ground. He spent time in Burwood Hospital’s spinal unit after the incident and has been left with serious spinal injuries that make movement difficult.

“Our investigation discovered five of the company’s safety requirements were not followed. Safety critical steps like these have been developed because people have died in the past. The steps aren’t optional – they are mandatory and each step must be followed,” the Chief Inspector Mining of the Ministry’s High Hazards Unit, Tony Forster said.

“The company should also have installed a mesh cage or curtain in the area to protect employees from the risk of falling coal. This technology has been available for some time. New Zealand may be isolated geographically but that does not mean we should be behind with health and safety developments.

“Solid Energy is this country’s largest and most experienced coal mining company, and its failures resulted in serious, long-term injury to an employee who should have been able to expect to go home safe from his shift at the mine,” Mr Forster said.

[ends]

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