Bundaberg mine worker Jack Gerdes died at the Baralaba North Coal Mine.| FILE PICTURE
Bundaberg mine worker Jack Gerdes died at the Baralaba North Coal Mine.| FILE PICTURE Lee Constable

Miner was killed when trapped in moving equipment

A MINE safety alert has confirmed a Queensland miner died when he was trapped in a moving part of an excavator after activating the emergency release.

A Queensland inspector of mines told the Daily Mercury safety alert 366, which was released on August 9, referred to Bundaberg miner Jack Gerdes who died at Baralaba North Coal Mine in July.

Mines Safety Alert 366 said an operator was fatally injured when he became entangled in the moveable part of an excavator's access ladder and its engine room.

"While the Mines Inspectorate's investigation is ongoing, it appears the operator somehow became caught within (a) handrail cell," the report said.

"When the ladder was lowered, following activation of the emergency ladder release valve... the operator sustained injuries from the moving handrails.

"The emergency release valve is intended to be operated by a pull cable (which is) positioned in a safe location.

"The investigation has identified that this valve can be activated without the use of the pull cable, which was found to be difficult to operate.

"For routine operation, the access ladder is lowered using a set of controls, positioned in a non-hazardous area.

The report stated the non-hazardous value control on the excavator was verified as "being functional".

A number of recommendations were made including informing users of the retractable ladders and the safety alert.

Alert Recommendations:

Although procedure (an administrative control) required the access ladder to be lowered through a safe process and location, it was physically possible to access the emergency ladder release valve.

An engineering control would have been more effective in keeping persons away from this location e.g. by positioning the valve in a place that is not accessible or by covering it.

The design of the access ladder, where the rotating handrails pass the stationary handrails in a scissor action, should be reviewed.

Refer to Komatsu 'Parts & Service News subject: "Hydraulically operated access"; Emergency release function, No AH19881; 18 July 2019'.