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Combination of errors cost man his leg

Saturday, 31st May, 2014

By Andrew Robertson

A slew of safety and procedural breaches contributed to a mine worker falling down a shaft and severing his leg almost two years ago, a report has found.

Mark Pollard was standing in the raised bucket of a front-end loader with another man on the 26 level at Perilya’s Southern Operations when he fell out.
The 51-year-old rigger plummeted about 14 metres to the bottom of the main shaft, severing his right leg at the hip as well as suffering seven

broken ribs, three spinal fractures and a lacerated liver.

An investigation by the NSW Mine Safety Investigation Unit has found a number of factors contributed to the incident which happened shortly before 10am on June 8, 2012.

Mr Pollard fell when the bucket, which was being repositioned by the loader operator, jerked to a halt and tilted forward.

Perilya told investigators the use of a loader bucket as an elevated work platform was banned but this was not documented in any of the mine’s safety management plan records or training documents, according to the final report.  

Supervisors also failed to tell the rigger how they wanted the task performed, did not review the job plan he had created, or oversee any of the work.

Several components of the fall arrest system Mr Pollard and the other man were wearing also would not have passed a ‘fit for purpose’ inspection, according to the report.

Mr Pollard was attached to the bucket by a lanyard which broke when he fell, and the report found that he had not used the recommended method of securing the rope.

Following the incident the company made a number of changes including the removal of substandard fall arrest equipment and amending induction forms to prohibit operators from working out of a loader bucket.

The report has been given to the Department of Resources and Investment.

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