Coal line deaths bring scattergun accusation

QUEENSLAND Rail has been accused of adopting a scattergun approach to Workplace Health and Safety following the death of two employees at Mindi, in Central Queensland.

Gary Watkins, 22, and Jamie Adams, 31, were killed when struck by a track machine while working on a coal line at Mindi, about 240km north-west of Rockhampton, on December 7 2007.

As a result, Queensland Rail has been prosecuted for allegedly breaching its Workplace, Health and Safety obligations.

Rail Tram and Bus Union Secretary Owen Doogan says new QR safety instructions for working around all sorts of track and non-track machines are so unworkable that it could be quicker for workers to use picks and shovels to meet maintenance targets.

“These new instructions were issued out of the blue and from leaks from within Queensland Rail, our Union has discovered that the decision to do this is linked to the deaths of two QR workers more than 21 months ago,” Mr Doogan said.

New safety requirements introduced last week without union consultation insist that all on-track and mobile machinery, such as excavators, should have physical barriers to the area, that they are operating a full three metres from their maximum extension and before anyone can enter that area, the vehicle has to be turned off and the driver or operator has to leave the vehicle.

“This means an excavator's engine has to be turned off and the operator away from the controls if another worker needs to check a trench for obstructions and makes it just about impossible for pipes and other material to be carefully guided into correct positions,” Mr Doogan said.

Workers who do not observe the new rules could face instant dismissal, according to the QR directive.

“Instead of ensuring appropriate safe work practices are in place QR has for all intents and purposes stopped some jobs from being carried out,” he said.

QR has for all intents and purposes stopped some jobs from being carried out


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