Peabody Energy Australia is being sued for $1.4 million after a worker claimed she was injured due to unsafe work practices.
Peabody Energy Australia is being sued for $1.4 million after a worker claimed she was injured due to unsafe work practices.

CQ coal miner suing for $1.4m over negligence claim

A CENTRAL Queensland coal miner is suing for $1.4m in a negligence claim against her former employer over allegations she was placed at risk due to unsafe work practices.

Amber Wensley worked at Coppabella mine, which is owned and operated by Peabody Energy Australia, when she claims she was exposed "to a risk of damage and/or injury" that should never have happened and has reduced her earning capacity by $1500 a week.

The Nebo woman, who was a dump truck driver, claims she now suffers chronic pain and an adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood after an unsafe load was dropped onto the tray of her vehicle from an unsafe height.

In January this year Ms Wensley filed a claim in Mackay Supreme Court for a total of $1,452,225.80 plus interest and costs against Peabody Energy, which plans to "strenuously defend the claims made".

Coppabella Mine, southwest of Mackay.
Coppabella Mine, southwest of Mackay.

On August 10, 2018 Ms Wensley was rostered on day shift, hauling mine spoil.

Court documents stated the shovel dropped a load weighing about 200 tonnes, according to the truck's vital information management system, into the truck's tray about 1.46pm, causing the vehicle to jerk sharply.

Ms Wensley alleges she was "jolted and/or thrown around within the operator's seat" even though she was wearing a seatbelt.

As a result of her injuries, Ms Wensley claims, she suffers ongoing neck pain, regular headaches and loss of range of movement of the cervical spine.

She had to take time off work and was placed on restricted duties before her employment was terminated on November 7 last year as a result of her injuries.

"As a direct result of the injuries sustained in the incident (Ms Wensley) is now restricted to very light and/or sedentary work on a part-time basis (and) has a residual earning capacity which does not exceed $400 per week," the documents read.

She claims the incident was caused by "negligence and/or breach of contract and/or breach of statutory duty" of Peabody Energy.

Further, Ms Wensley alleges her former employer is "vicariously liable" for the negligence of the shovel operator and the site senior executive over the incident and that Peabody "caused, permitted and/or allowed" an unsafe load of large, blocky material to be dropped from an unsafe height.

The documents also allege Peabody Energy failed in developing or implementing a safety and health management system at the mine or doing any sufficient risk assessment that would have identified risks linked to dumping large blocky spoil into the tray and from an unsafe height.

The court documents also included a sealed offer to settle from Ms Wensley to Peabody.

A Peabody spokeswoman said the "safety of our workforce is Peabody's first value and number one priority".

"It is inappropriate to comment on the specifics of this case while it is going through the court proves," she said.


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