Thursday 23rd January 2014

A WA mining company is facing a retrial over the death of a worker in 2008, after a judge overruled an acquittal on charges the firm failed to provide a safe working environment.

In September 2008, teenage apprentice Adam Michael Sargeant was driving on the Yandi mine site in the Pilbara when he was crushed to death when his car was hit by a haul truck.

The court was told that a Caterpillar 789C haul truck, collided with the Toyota Landcruiser being driven by Mr Sargeant, aged 19.

“The difference in size between them was such that the light vehicle was crushed in the impact,” the court was told.

The accident occurred on the day of the funeral of another HWE employee who had died 10 days earlier on the site – prompting BHP Billiton Iron Ore operations to suspend all of its operations in WA for a short time.

In November 2012 during an eight-day trial, HWE Mining – which operated the Yandi mine for BHP Billiton Iron Ore – were accused of failing to ensure that the road where the collision occurred was correctly designed and signposted.

But Magistrate Michael Wheeler concluded that the fatal collision was caused by a serious driving error, rather than any failure on the part of his employer.

Prosecutors appealed the judgment on more than 20 grounds, claiming the magistrate had failed to take proper regard of whether HWE had taken enough practicable steps to avoid a potential tragedy. Justice Jeremy Allanson agreed, ordering a retrial before a different magistrate.

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