Mount Perry coalminer Jack Gerdes, who died after an incident at Baralaba North in the early hours of July 7. Picture: Contributed
Mount Perry coalminer Jack Gerdes, who died after an incident at Baralaba North in the early hours of July 7. Picture: Contributed

Miner’s death could have happened one of four ways

THE father of a Central Queensland coalminer killed in a workplace incident says the family has received some closure a year on from the tragedy.

Jack Gerdes died at Baralaba North coalmine on July 7 last year when he was crushed between the retractable staircase and the body on a Komatsu PC4000 excavator.

His father Brian Gerdes has now received the Queensland Mines Inspectorate's final investigation report into the tragedy.

Mr Gerdes said because his son was alone when the incident happened, the inspectorate was unable to offer a definitive answer on Jack's final moments.

"They came up with four ways it could have happened," Mr Gerdes said.

"It is likely he has tripped or slipped and ended up where he ended up."

The family is still awaiting a coroner's report.

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"We will just see what the coroner says. But we are happy to have the investigation over," he said.

The inspectorate issued a safety alert about the Mount Perry man's death earlier this year, which included five recommendations for the industry.

Mount Perry miner Jack Gerdes, who died in an accident at Baralaba North Coal Mine on Sunday, July 7.
Mount Perry miner Jack Gerdes, who died in an accident at Baralaba North Coal Mine on Sunday, July 7.

"While there were several potential scenarios of how he became entangled, the evidence and analysis of data from the scene indicated that when he tripped he inadvertently activated the emergency valve positioned behind the rails," it stated.

A Resources Safety and Health Queensland spokeswoman said it would consider publishing the inspectorate's report into Jack Gerdes' death, in line with its public statements policy.

"Under the policy, RSHQ may publish investigation reports to raise awareness about risks to workers and promote good safety and health practice in industry," the spokeswoman said.

"Mr Gerdes and other affected persons have been provided with a copy of the report for comment, to inform RSHQ's consideration under the policy."

She said Resources Safety and Health Queensland had decided not to seek prosecution "in respect of this tragic accident".

The Gerdes' marked the one-year anniversary of losing their son surrounded by family and friends.

Brian Gerdes with his son Jack's truck, which the family keeps following Jack's death at Baralaba North on July 7. Picture: Alex Treacy
Brian Gerdes with his son Jack's truck, which the family keeps following Jack's death at Baralaba North on July 7. Picture: Alex Treacy

"We all called into the cemetery. We went down to the local pub and a lot of people turned up there," Mr Gerdes said.

"He was a pretty active sort of bloke.

"A lot of people rang and called in to see us - It was a big day."

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The heartbroken father said he hoped the Coal Mining Board of Inquiry would ensure no more mining families had to endure the pain of losing a loved one at work.

"Hopefully a good result will come out of that and it will be better for the blokes on the ground," Mr Gerdes said.

"Most of the mine owners, they don't treat the blokes properly.

"With the safety aspect, the only way it is going to work properly is if the union gets involved and the workers don't get targeted for mentioning safety aspects and things that are going wrong."


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