Death on Pilbara mine site

Death on Pilbara mine site
Christmas Creek mine south-west of Nullagine. Picture: Supplied

A 24-year-old man was crushed to death on a mine site in the Pilbara overnight.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union confirmed the body of an electrician was discovered at Fortescue Metals Group's Christmas Creek operation about 8pm yesterday.

The death is the first on a WA mine site in nearly two years.

The man has been named as Kurt Williams.

FMG chairman Andrew Forrest said he had spoken to Mr Williams' father.

"I have spoken to his father Greg, a wonderful man. His mates (on site) are doing it tough," Mr Forrest said.

"(Even though Kurt wasn't an FMG employee) if you come on a Fortescue site then you are part of the Fortescue family. It doesn't matter what badge you wear."

Mr Forrest led a prayer for Williams' family.

CFMEU state secretary Mick Buchan said the contractor had been working alone when he was crushed by plant equipment.

"No-one should work alone, especially on night shift," Mr Buchan said. "We will be sending CFMEU representatives to speak to workers today and we want to be part of the investigation into the incident."

All work has been suspended at the mine site.

An Electrical Trades Union spokesman said Mr Williams was from New Zealand.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange this morning, FMG said Mr Williams' family had been notified and civil and mine safety authorities had been advised.

Chaplaincy and counselling services were being made to colleagues at the mine, the statement said.

FMG operations director David Woodall said the Fortescue family were deeply saddened by the death.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the worker's loved ones at this time," Mr Woodall said. "Mining and processing operations at the mine were suspended overnight."

Electrical Trades Union WA secretary Les McLaughlan said the union had previously raised general concerns about CSI’s safety practices and specific concerns about the kind of work Mr Williams was undertaking.

“This man’s death is a tragedy and we believe it may have been prevented if CSI had listened to our concerns about its safety practices,” he said.

“Working on live equipment is inherently dangerous.

“What we need to know is whether the company took any extra safety precautions after we raised these concerns.”

The incident also highlighted the danger of people working alone at night, Mr McLaughlan said.

Department of Mines and Petroleum Resources Safety Executive Director Simon Ridge said the worker sustained fatal injuries while working at an ore processing plant.

Mr Ridge said a team of mines safety inspectors would arrive at the site today.

"Our thoughts are with family, friends and colleagues who have been impacted by this tragic incident," he said. "This is a sad day for the entire WA resources industry.

"Our safety inspectors and investigators will now commence a full and thorough investigation into this incident, to get to the bottom of how this has occurred.

"Let me stress to every person involved with onsite activities in any way in WA - whether you are workers, supervisors, managers, trainers or executives - please remain vigilant and deliberate in your actions at all times. Know the hazards in your workplace and employ the right risk management processes to control them."

Resources Minister Gary Gray said the death was sad and unfortunate.

“We went nearly two years without a mine site death - the longest period in the mining history of Western Australia,” he told a mining conference in Perth.

“Our industry will feel grief and sadness for the family.”

The last WA mine fatality occurred in August 2011, with 2012 recording its first fatality-free year in more than a century.

Brent David Glew, of Canning Vale, died while doing maintenance on a hydraulic cylinder on a front-end loader at Rio Tinto’s Brockman 2 site near Tom Price on August 16, 2011.

The iron ore mine is situated 60km south-west of Nullagine.