As a mark of respect to killed Mackay miner David Routledge, mining industry workers have changed their Facebook profile photos to the above image.
As a mark of respect to killed Mackay miner David Routledge, mining industry workers have changed their Facebook profile photos to the above image. Facebook

Middlemount Coal defends emergency response to mine fatality

MIDDLEMOUNT Coal has defended its response to Wednesday's mine fatality.

CEO Gerrie Jordaan said the company activated emergency response procedures immediately and commended the work of first responders.

He said the company had implemented a number of procedures to support its employees as they came to terms with the loss of their colleague

The company has been under scrutiny this week after the CFMEU raised concerns about the emergency response, revealing South Mackay man David Routledge, 56, was trapped in an excavator for almost 12 hours.

 

David Routledge with his grandchildren.
David Routledge with his grandchildren.

The Daily Mercury also learned CFMEU safety representatives were due to visit the Middlemount mine the day after Wednesday's fatal high wall collapse over previous safety concerns mine workers had raised.

"Our emergency response procedures were activated immediately following the incident on Wednesday," Mr Jordaan said.

"This included mobilising our mines rescue team, as well as the Middlemount Fire Department, Queensland Fire Emergency Services, Queensland Ambulance Service, and Queensland Police Service.

"The Queensland Rescue Helicopter and the Queensland Mines Rescue Service were also put on standby to assist.

"We commend the work of all personnel involved in the rescue and recovery efforts.

"It was an extremely complex task undertaken in very difficult circumstances.

"The details of the incident are the subject of a full investigation by the Queensland Mines Inspectorate and we have been cooperating fully with this process.

"This is a difficult time for every mine worker and their loved ones, but particularly for our people who worked alongside David Routledge and have been directly impacted by this tragic incident.

"We continue to be in contact with David's family to offer whatever support we can to help them deal with their loss.

"We appreciate this has been a very difficult time for all members of our workforce and their families.

"We remain in regular contact with our employees and have implemented a number of procedures to support them as they come to terms with their loss."

 

Middlemount Coal mine in Central Queensland.
Middlemount Coal mine in Central Queensland. Melanie Whiting

It is understood Thursday's scheduled visit by the CFMEU to Middlemount Mine was for a routine safety inspection and to follow up on safety concerns that mine workers had previously raised.

The list of concerns sighted by the Daily Mercury included "supervisors more intent on production rather than having safe production", "the lack of lighting provided on night shift swing" and "not performing brake tests before leaving go lines".

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth confirmed workers had raised safety issues at the Middlemount Mine but he said this was common across Queensland coal mines.

He also said there was a culture of fear in the mining industry over speaking up about safety issues in the workplace.

"If they speak up they get told, 'don't worry about coming back tomorrow' - the fear of losing your job is a big fear," Mr Smyth said.

"We really need to be empowering workers to stand up and speak out if it's not safe - that's a real issue."

Earlier this week, Mr Smyth also called for the industry to probe safety culture and practices, saying Mr Routledge's tragic death should serve as a "wake-up call".

"Workers must be empowered to stand up and speak out on safety matters without the fear of reprisal," he said.