Driver of BHP runaway train sacked

January 10, 2019 Mining Editor

The driver of BHP runaway train was sacked in the weeks before Christmas according to a recent report from ABC news

According to reports, the 63-year-old driver was notified of his dismissal on the 18th December and thereafter submitted an unfair dismissal claim. That appeal was dismissed by the Fair Work Commission on the 28th December 2018.

A spokesman from Turner Freeman Lawyers acting on behalf of the driver said ‘BHP needs to acknowledge their role in the incident, where no one was injured. It is a classic case of ‘have an accident, blame the worker not the system’, he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

‘Essentially what we will be saying is that the decision to dismiss was unfair for a raft of reasons not least of which was blaming the worker for the accident when there were significant issues with the systems, [over which he had no control].

BHP Iron Ore president Edgar Basto said in November initial findings had shown the train had stopped automatically after a braking system control cable became disconnected.

The driver was then asked to carry out an inspection, and the train started to move.

“Our initial findings show that the emergency brake for the entire train was not engaged as required by the relevant operating procedures,” Mr Basto said at the time.

“The electric braking system that initially stopped the train automatically released after an hour while the driver was still outside.

“Due to integration failure of the backup braking system, it was not able to deploy successfully.”

The preliminary incident investigation reported by Australasian Mine Safety News two months ago,  heard BHP Andrew McKenzie tell shareholders that BHP had about 130 people working day and night to investigate the issue and repair the track, and he vowed to invest in improving safety. McKenzie said…

“We lost control of the train through an issue with the systems,” Mr Mackenzie said.

“We’ve been all over this,” he said. “We will continue to invest to make our railways, as with all our operations, safer.”But he reiterated it was a deliberate derailment, instigated by BHP after it had lost control of the train.

“We lost control of the train through an issue with the systems,” Mr Mackenzie said at the time.

The ATSB complex investigation can be accessed here but it is not expected to be completed until the fourth quarter of 2019.

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