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Young Aussie worker killed in 'horrible' BHP mining accident

The much-loved Queensland man became trapped between two vehicles and was "crushed" in a tragedy that has shocked the industry.

Tributes are flowing for "an amazing young man" who was killed during a workplace accident this week, with the Aussie being remembered as "an absolute legend".

Luke O'Brien, 27, was killed while working at the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance's (BMA) Saraji mine in Dysart, about 200 kilometres south-west of his hometown of Mackay in Queensland. The young Aussie had been working with another man when it's understood he was pinned between a ute and fuel tanker on Monday.

Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) confirmed that two men were working in a fuel bay area of the mine at 12pm when an "interaction with two vehicles" left O'Brien with devastating "crush injuries".

"The worker was transported to hospital, but sadly he later passed away in the evening," RSHQ chief executive Rob Djukic said. RSHQ will continue to investigate the incident.

BMA's Saraji Coal Mine near Moranbah pictured.
Luke O'Brien was crushed while working at BMA's Saraji Coal Mine near Moranbah. Source: Facebook

Young worker trapped between two vehicles

Reports suggest the ute moved backwards instead of forwards resulting in the tragic death. Operations at the mine have now been suspended.

Resources Minister Scott Stewart said safety needs to be a top priority across the industry.

"Our expectation as a government, as a community is that when workers go to work they come home the same way they leave, they come home safe and they come home as healthy as what they leave," he said. "This is just tragic, it tears families to pieces."

Friends and family have shared heartfelt tributes for the young racing enthusiast. O'Brien's father Terrence was among those to share an emotional tribute for his youngest son on social media.

"For those that don’t know it is with my broken, sinking and heavy heart that my youngest son Luke O’Brien 27 passed away yesterday after the incident at Saraji Mine," he wrote, The Courier Mail reported. "Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us in this difficult time. Love you mate RIP."

Others that knew and loved him shared their devastation over his death.

"Some very, very dear friends of mine lost their son in a mining accident I am so devastated for them," family friend wrote, describing O'Brien as an "amazing individual".

Luke O'Brien, 27, pictured looking at the camera.
Luke O'Brien, 27, died during a mining accident in Queensland earlier this week. Source: Facebook.

"I’m so sorry… he was an absolute legend," said another. "He was an amazing young man and we who knew and loved him will be forever better for having him in our lives… he will forever live in our hearts and memories," another mourner wrote, while one friend summed up the situation as "just horrible".

Industry shocked by Luke O'Brien's death

The Mining and Energy Union said the whole mining community was shocked and saddened by the incident. "This is the worst news we can ever receive," union district president Mitch Hughes said.

"We are devastated that a coal miner is not returning home at the end of their shift.

"We will ensure no stone is left unturned in understanding what has occurred and preventing future fatalities and injuries," he said.

Townsville MP Scott Stewart said his heart also goes out to the family. "My heart goes out to the friends, family, and workmates of the man who tragically lost his life yesterday during an incident at the Saraji mine," he said. This is a terrible tragedy which should never have happened.

"Every worker deserves to go home from every shift safe and well – any death is simply not acceptable in our mines or in any Queensland workplace."

with AAP

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