BHP Billiton has suspended its Port Hedland port and rail operations after a worker was crushed to death by a crane overnight.
Acting Sergeant Naomi Smith said the 23-year-old Port Hedland man died after the heavy machinery collapsed and fell on him about 12.45am today.
The fatal accident happened at BHP Billiton’s iron ore loading facility at Finucane Island in Port Hedland.
Department of Mines and Petroleum spokesman Beau Pearson said the accident was being investigated.
BHP Billiton said an onside emergency team had been activated and external emergency services, including police, were attending the scene.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union mining division secretary Gary Wood said he was shocked by the latest death.
“The fatality is extremely disturbing to all of us and the family involved,” he said.
He said the mining giant’s safety record had been appalling up until the beginning of this year. It previously came under fire after logging five deaths in less than a year between July 2008 and April 2009.
A 45-year-old contractor, an employee of engineering group John Holland, died at BHP’s Newman iron ore hub in March 2009. The fatality followed the deaths of workers at the Mt Newman railway, at BHP’s Yandi mine and the company’s Nelson Point Operations at Port Hedland.
In June 2009 a worker at the BHP nickel mine in Leinster was trapped underground for two hours after a small earthquake struck.
“They had been working on some principal management hazard plans and they had some positive results in regards to safety, but obviously there was a problem there,” Mr Wood said.
He said the safety standards had improved across all sites after Mines Minister Norman Moore had urged the company to address its safety record, but “there had been some shortcomings”.
Premier Colin Barnett said the death was “a very sad event and I extend my sympathy to his friends and family”.
“It’s of great concern that we have had significant numbers of deaths in the mining industry over the last two years.”
Category: Accident Report