Another Western Australian mine death, but still no safety inquiry

A man, believed to be in his 60s, died on August 5th after falling more than 15 metres down a shaft at Norseman Gold, south of Kalgoorlie.

He is the tenth worker to die on a West Australian mine site in the past two years.

In a statement, Mines Minister Norman Moore described the man’s death as tragic but he says the Government is working to overhaul mine safety and move towards a new risk-assessment model.

The Opposition’s Jon Ford says those measures will not be introduced for another 18 months.

“The industry’s confused about the Government’s direction, the workforce is confused, we’re not quite sure where they’re going,” he said.

Mr Ford says a Royal Commission is needed.

“This is 2010, nobody should expect to go to work and be killed,” he said.

“Clearly there’s something failing. There needs to be an investigation to stop these deaths from occurring. I think the focus needs to be on the inspectorate.

“Governments of all persuasions have had a number of inquiries over the years, particularly when there’s been a spate of fatalities or serious injuries. The one common denominator in all of this is the effectiveness of the inspectorate.”

Australian Workers Union spokesman Paul Asplin says the Norseman mine site has been the subject of numerous safety complaints.

“Any death in the mining industry today is just one too many,” he said.

“This mine has been the subject of many complaints with not only to this union, but we’ve referred these matters through to parliament.”

The man’s death is being investigated by Worksafe and the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

Mr Moore rejected the call for a Royal Commission, saying previous inquiries have achieved very little.

He says additional resources are being poured into the Mines department.


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