Excavator bucket linked to mine death not fully examined
AN EXCAVATOR bucket linked to the tragic death of a mine contractor was not fully inspected before the boilermaker began removing an extremely large damaged wear plate.
Boilermaker Daniel Springer died at Goonyella Riverside Mine in 2017 when stored energy caused a section of the wear plate he had been cutting to spring back, striking him in the head and causing fatal injuries.
Mackay Coroners Court heard the wear plate the 30-year-old Independent Mining Services contractor had been cutting into smaller, more manageable pieces, was about 2m x 3.4m and curved.
Testing after Mr Springer's death revealed a build up of soil between the wear plate and the bucket, which had not been included in the initial repair report.
A number of witnesses have also told the coronial inquest it was uncommon to come across external curved wear plates of this extreme size on an excavator.
Paul Thompson, who worked for company ALS hired to test machinery at the mine for any necessary repairs, said the 32 tonne bucket Mr Springer had worked on had not been fully examined because scaffolding had not been provided to assist with the inspection.
As a result the workers examining the bucket, which was resting upside down, were not able to closely inspect a visible tear in the wear plate.
Mr Thompson said workers had only been able to closely inspect up to about 1.8 to two metres on the outer face of the bucket and could only view the tear from the ground.
Images displayed in court showed this was beneath a visible tear, which was above the section Mr Springer had been removing.
"We could see that it was torn and all the welds were cracked down the sides," Mr Thompson said when asked if there had been any need to inspect the tear or any accumulation more closely.
The court heard the section of wear plate sprang back about 650mm when it struck Mr Springer.
Some witnesses told the court they had not come across this level of spring back before.
Former employer Ryan McGovern said Mr Springer had "impressive" qualifications and there was nothing to doubt his ability.
Under questioning by Coroner Nerida Wilson, Mr McGovern said Mr Springer would not have expected a 650mm spring back.
He further said he did not believe access to a crane, to put him in a different position while completely the work, would have made any difference.
The inquest continues.