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Peabody fined over safety audit practices

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Peabody Energy has faced criticism and a small court fine over a 2009 workplace incident at the North Goonyella mine in central Queensland.

The Mackay Industrial Magistrates Court imposed a fine of $10,000 on Peabody, which pleaded guilty to charges of failing to discharge health and safety obligations under the Coal Mining Health and Safety Act.

The maximum penalty for this offence is $250,000.

In 2009, two workers accidently inhaled a dangerous chemical after one poured the cleaning agent Lectra Clean on to a hot gearbox, which created fumes that caused the workers to suffer from respiratory irritation.

One of the active chemicals in Lectra Clean called 1-Bromopropane had not been reassessed for the level of danger and risk associated with its use.

Department of Natural Resources and Mines barrister Geraldine Dann said the North Goonyella mine had failed to audit and review the effectiveness and implementation of its safety and health management systems.

Magistrate Ross Risson said the mine’s failure to audit the safety and health management systems meant that reassessment of the chemical had not been identified.

Defense barrister Peter Rooney argued that the instruction on the products was misleading.

Lectra Clean manufacturer CRC’s instructions for use currently state that the product should not be used on “energised equipment”.

North Goonyella was also ordered to pay $16,000 in investigations costs and $2500 for professional costs, with no conviction recorded.

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