Mine tragedy - Report released into fatal Boggabri accident

INVESTIGATORS have released a preliminary report into the tragic death of a construction worker at the Boggabri Coal mine in the Leard State Forest last month.

TRAGIC DEATH: New details have emerged about the circumstances surrounding the death of construction worker Mark Galton at a mine in Boggabri last month. Photo: Claudine Thornton Photography

TRAGIC DEATH: New details have emerged about the circumstances surrounding the death of construction worker Mark Galton at a mine in Boggabri last month. Photo: Claudine Thornton Photography

Mark Galton, who lived near Ulladulla on the South-Coast, died after suffering severe head and neck injuries in a workplace accident about 8.45am on May 21.

The NSW Mine Safety Investigation Unit has released its interim findings into the 50-year-old’s death as it prepares a full report for the secretary of NSW Trade and Investment.

Mr Galton was working for joint venture partners Thiess-Sedgman on a project to build a $180 million coal handling and preparation plant at the mine.

He was standing in the basket of a mobile elevated work platform about 14m off the ground tightening bolts on the steel structure when the incident occurred.

A witness saw Mr Galton working from the basket with only a “small distance” between his safety helmet and an overhead steel beam.

“Shortly afterwards, the deceased worker was seen with his head caught between the steel beam and the safety rail protecting the operator’s console,” the report said.

Colleagues worked feverishly to keep an unconscious Mr Galton alive until emergency services arrived, but he went into cardiac arrest and died at the scene.

Mr Galton, who had a wife, Dominica, and daughter, was an accomplished glass artist and passionate surfer who travelled frequently to work on construction projects.

“The deceased worker held a national licence to perform high-risk work and held competencies in the operation of the mobile elevated work platform being used,” the report said.

The report noted that a 2013 UK study identified “significant numbers of accidents” where operators had been trapped or crushed between such platforms and nearby obstructions.

“The need for hazard identification and preparation of a safe work method is well documented,” the report concluded.

Boggabri Coal, owned by Idemitsu Australia Resources, commenced production in 2006 and is undergoing a significant expansion to lift output from five to seven million tonnes a year.

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