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Storm wreaks havoc at Peak Downs Mine, prompting union calls for safety audit

By Inga Stünzner and Paul Culliver, Tuesday November 17, 2020 - 08:55 EDT
ABC licensed image
The wreckage left at the Peak Downs Mine after a savage storm tore through the Bowen Basin. - ABC licensed

A central Queensland mine is in the process of a big clean-up after a storm flattened a workshop and a large shed, prompting calls from the mining union for a safety audit of all structures on mine sites.

Buildings at BHP's Peak Downs Mine were destroyed when a wild storm tore through the Bowen Basin on Friday afternoon.

The CFMEU's Steve Smythe said the incident demonstrated the need for companies to reassess the way buildings and structures were rated for safety and wind speeds.

"The only shining light out of this was no-one was injured, which is great," Mr Smythe said.

"Our safety reps were out there yesterday having a look around, but certainly there's going to have to be a rethink not just of Peak Downs but across the industry with storm season on the way."

Mr Smythe said mining companies and their contractors were erecting flimsy structures, akin to what someone would build in their backyard — but on a much larger scale.

"Companies and contractors have gone and put these in place as a stop-gap measure but, as with anything, they end up staying there as a full-time structure for trucks and people to work in and under," he said.

Call for department to do safety checks

Mr Smythe said mining companies made their own audits to ensure such structures were installed to a standard.

However, Mr Smythe said the Mines Department should also carry out inspections to ensure workplace safety, and distribute safety information to all mines.

"A couple of years ago we had dongas, or crib rooms, which turned over in storms at the Jelinbah Mine, which resulted in people being caught in the crib rooms," he said.

"People are aware of this and normally tie them down, but there needs to be a more concerted effort done to ensure they are secure and people will not be put at risk."

BHP said a clean-up was underway and its safety systems meant people were prepared, no-one was injured and operations were ramping back up.

Minister for Resources Scott Stewart said an inspector from Resources Safety and Health Queensland would be examining the site.


© ABC 2020

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