A SALT Ash sand mine operator will avoid further criminal prosecution over an accident in which a worker fell nearly three metres from a dump truck, fracturing his skull.
The man was working for Sibelco , the mine operator of the Salt Ash Sand Plant, on Feburary 1, 2016, when he fell 2.7 metres from the off-driver’s side platform of an articulated dump truck, the Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Regulator said.
“The worker suffered a skull fracture requiring emergency craniotomy surgery to reduce brain swelling,” the regulator’s chief compliance officer Anthony Keon said in a report.
“Injuries included a jaw fracture, a brain haemorrhage which required secondary surgery, and ongoing loss of hearing.”
Following investigations, the Resources Regulator began criminal proceedings in the District Court at the start of this year, alleging the operator had breached the Workplace Health and Safety Act. The breach carried a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.
This week, the Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Regulator said in a statement it had accepted an enforceable undertaking from Sibelco. Anenforceable undertaking is a legally-binding agreement proposed by a company, which may be considered as an alternative to prosecution.
As part of the undertaking, Sibelco has committed to a number of initiatives with a financial commitment of at least $531,697.50, the statement said.
The undertaking requires Sibelco to develop and share an educational video on articulated dump truck safety, share at five industry events a presentation on what it had learned from the accident and create two internships at Sibelco sites for university students studying work health and safety.
The undertaking also requires the company to donate $190,000 to the Hunter Brain Injury Service Centre.
As part of the agreement, criminal prosecution of Sibelco will cease and the company will pay the regulator’s costs of$171,752, making the total value of the undertaking $703,449.50.
NSW Resources Regulator’sMr Keon said the undertaking was accepted as it provided for significantly better outcomes than what could be achieved by prosecution alone.
“This case serves as a timely reminder to mining operators of their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act,” he said.
“The undertaking is considered significant and will provide tangible benefits to the mining industry and the community.”