Trauma help for miners in Super Pit during million-tonne rock slips
Summary: Some Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines employees who were at the Super Pit during massive rock falls in May are receiving workers compensation and psychological counselling for stress and trauma, according to the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union.....
KCGM general manager Cecile Thaxter said that no staff or contractors were injured in the May 14 and 15 incidents, which caused more than one million tonnes of rock to tumble.
However, AMWU State secretary Steven McCartney said some workers who were present at the time of the slip had gone on stress leave and were receiving counselling as a result of the incident.
He said the union heard from its members they feared going to work every day because of concerns for their safety.
In response to specific questions about workers on stress leave, Ms Thaxter said KCGM was unable to comment on individual employee circumstances.
The Super Pit wall slip.
Mr McCartney claimed the AMWU had received reports from workers at KCGM that, immediately after the rock fall, a meeting was held where management admitted it knew days ahead of the incident that a rock fall was potentially imminent.
“KCGM’s meters had allegedly picked up a 4mm shift in the rock face days earlier,” he said.
Ms Thaxter said KCGM’s detection systems within the pit identified movement before the rock fall but did not specify how long before the fall they were alerted.
“An exclusion zone was in place and all employees were outside of the exclusion zone.”
The company admitted in a report to the Department of Mines, Industry Safety and Regulation last week its exclusion zone from the oncoming fall was “deficient”.
DMISR mines safety director Andrew Chaplyn said the department had received a report that one worker had been declared unfit for work.
He said the department’s investigation into the rock fall was continuing and was expected to take several months.
“The safety of workers who were on the pit floor is part of the department’s investigation,” he said.
“The investigation report is not publicly released. However, if the investigation identifies important safety issues that should be highlighted to other mining operations, the department will release a significant incident report.”
Open pit crews were advised in June that, as a result of the rock fall, 25 permanent KCGM employees had been made redundant and 11 fixed-term contracts would not be renewed from KCGM’s mining team.
Ms Thaxter said affected employees were offered assistance to find other work, as well as support from the company’s employee assistance program.
“With any redundancies made at KCGM, this support continues for a period of three months following the separations,” Ms Thaxter said.
Mr McCartney said the union had been in contact with AMWU members whose employment had been affected by the rock fall.
He said those members were employed by contractors and most had been redeployed.