Crash victim says decision to drive was left to workers

A MONTO miner suing for damages over a 2008 car crash has told the Supreme Court it was considered normal for workers to drive home from the mine after their final shift.

The civil trial in the Supreme Court at Rockhampton yesterday heard evidence from Harold Kerle, who suffered structural brain damage in a car crash in 2008.

Kerle was working as a machine operator at Norwich Park mine near Dysart, operated by BM Alliance Coal Operations, when it is alleged he drove home fatigued.

Kerle's vehicle collided with a guard rail on the Burnett Hwy between Biloela and Dululu on October 30, 2008.

He is suing mine operator BM Alliance Coal Operations and contractor HMP Constructions for $1.25 million and employment company Axial HR for $1.2 million in injury damages.

Giving evidence yesterday, Kerle recalled the induction period for employment with Axial was roughly three days. Kerle said he had no recollection of being told to report travel plans to supervisors, or being taught that signs of fatigue may not be obvious, even if present.

He also said he could not remember having any training or education on sleeping or resting before commencing travel after a shift.

While Kerle said there were general conversations on this topic, the final decision on whether it was safe to drive was left up to individuals. The court heard Kerle had been provided camp accommodation near Dysart, with workers ferried between there and the mine on a bus.

When Kerle started night shifts driving trucks on October 26, 2008, he said he travelled between the camp and mine on the bus.

But before the fourth shift, Kerle said he packed his car, handed in his camp key and drove to the mine site.

"I had every intention of driving home from the mine," he said.

Kerle said doing this was considered more efficient by workers, who could be on the road and home for their days off faster.

He said this had been raised during conversations with supervisors and colleagues, who also did the same.

Kerle said he was told by some they would drive as far as the Sunshine Coast after a shift.

The trial continues today.