Penalties reach new levels in latest health and safety case
Mining company Oceana Gold has been sentenced after the death of a worker in July 2016. It has been ordered to pay almost $1.4 million in fines and reparation.
The worker died after the loader he was driving entered an underground tunnel at Oceana Gold's Correnso mine in Waihi and tipped over. At the time, the worker was building a rock bund across an open stope to try and eliminate the risk of falling into the stope.
WorkSafe’s investigation found that Oceana Gold had failed to develop and implement a safe system of work for the creation of a 1.5 metre high embankment in the mine. WorkSafe said that Oceana Gold had identified the risk and the solution of bunds to reduce the risk of a vehicle falling into a void, but they had not effectively mitigated the risks involved in implementing that solution. Oceana Gold has since developed an innovative, non-industry-standard procedure for placing steel bollards along open stopes, to stop an incident like this from happening again.
Oceana Gold was charged under the Health and Safety Work Act for failing to ensure, as far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers. The charge had a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.
Judge Thomas Ingram decided that the case was one that attracted moderate culpability. He then followed the usual procedure of applying discounts for an early guilty plea and other mitigating factors, and imposed a fine of $378,000.
In addition to the fine, Oceana Gold had already paid voluntary reparation of $660,000 to the victim’s family. It was ordered to pay additional reparation of $350,000.
If you have any questions about this judgment or would like advice on health and safety issues, please contact a member of our health and safety team.
Disclaimer: the content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.