Oakey creek mine Glencore Australia. Picture: Supplied.
Oakey creek mine Glencore Australia. Picture: Supplied.

Worker files $1m claim after being struck in head

AN EX-CENTRAL Queensland miner who was struck in the head and body following a mining roof collapse, causing significant injuries, has lodged a claim for nearly $1 million against his employers.

Matt Stephen Cody, now 44, of Peachester, Sunshine Coast, has filed a $964,054.80 court claim for personal injuries, loss and other damages he alleges were occasioned by the negligence of Oaky Creek Holdings and Pims Mining Pty Ltd.

Oaky Creek Holdings of Glencore Australia Holdings, is the owner and operators of the Oaky North Mine, located between Tieri and Middlemount, where the accident occurred. Pims Mining supplies labour to the mining industry, including to Oaky Creek Holdings.

Documents were filed to the Rockhampton Supreme Court on December 9, by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on behalf of Mr Cody, suing both companies.

The statement of claims detail Mr Cody was a mechanical fitter by trade and was working at the Oaky North Mine.

It is alleged the incident occurred on or about December 1, 2016, when Mr Cody and another colleague, a trainee continuous miner operator, were working together.

Mr Cody was working as a cable hand. It is claimed the trainee was working without the supervision of an assessor or trainer.

Mr Cody has detailed the trainee was trimming corners of the hole-through.

It is alleged the mine deputy informed the trainee of a fault in the roof where he had been working and warned it needed supporting

Mr Cody was allegedly on the left-hand side of the trainee and the trainee commenced operating the continuous miner machine to trim the in-bye rib.

It is alleged the trainee did not stop the continuous miner at intervals of 1m to 1.5m to allow rib bolts to be inserted into the roof together with mesh to support the roof

It is alleged the trainee ­operated the machine so a large section was taken out of the in-bye rib which resulted in the rib protection of the machine to rip off.

Mr Cody claims he took two steps forward to warn the trainee of the situation when a section of the roof collapsed and large slabs of rock fell from the roof, striking him in the right knee, head and right shoulder.

From the incident, Mr Cody sustained fractures to 10 teeth and jaw injuries, a cervical spine injury and pinched nerve, a right wrist strain, a right knee injury with ACL disruption and a right ankle sprain.

He also suffers from mixed anxiety a and depressed mood.

The documents claim Oaky Creek Holdings were negligent in allowing the trainee to operate without a trainer or assessor being present, failed to ensure the roof was supported and failed to ensure Mr Cody's own safety and health.

It is also claimed the company failed to provide adequate planning, organisation, leadership and control of coal mining operations, adequate supervision and control of coal mining operations on each shift and regular monitoring and assessment of the working environment work procedures, equipment and installation at the mine.

It is further claimed Pims Mining failed to undertake reasonable enquiries to ensure the systems of work at the mine were safe for the plaintiff to undertake his work duties and failed to take reasonable steps to ascertain that only qualified persons or trainees who had an assessor or trainer with them operated the continuous miner machine at the said mine.

It is also claimed Pims Mining failed to undertake reasonable precautions to avoid foreseeable risk of injury to the plaintiff and failed to adhere to mines health and safety management systems and training about hazards and risks.

As a result of his injuries, Mr Cody claims he has suffered and will continue to in the future from pain, suffering and discomfort, suffer a significant loss of the amenities of life, economic loss and earning capacity to the amount of $964,054.80.

It is detailed that due to his injuries, Mr Cody has suffered a reduction in earning capacity and has not been able to continue to work as a mechanical fitter.

Pims Mining has responded to the claim with a notice claiming contribution and intention to defend.

Pims Mining defence documents admits some allegations from Mr Cody's statement of claim are true, while some are denied.

The company claims it has no presence or control on the mine site and no control over what works Mr Cody completes.

It is detailed Pims Mining worked under direct supervision and instruction of Oaky Creek Holdings and was prevented from entering the site unless they had their permission.

Pims Mining claimed it had no role in the incident and is wholly unconnected to the incident and claims Oaky Creek Holdings is liable for the cause of the incident.

Pims Mining further claims Mr Cody chose to enter a section of the mine where the roof was exposed, knew the roof was vulnerable to collapse and decided to step into the area, stood on the left hand side of the continuous miner when there was no risk control or operational requirement to be there and acted with wilful disregard and failed to take appropriate care for his own safety.

The company also claims the injuries do not prevent Mr Cody from working as a diesel fitter and he has shown himself capable of earning more since the incident than he was at the time of the incident, and his knee injury has been repaired and is fully healed.

The company's defence states Mr Cody has failed to mitigate his losses by maintaining and/or returning to suitable employment and the amounts claimed and alleged affects of the injury are otherwise overstated and disproportionate to the actual effects of the incident.

The defence was filed by McIness Wilson Lawyers on December 19.

Oaky Creek holdings has not yet responded to the claim.

All parties were contacted for comment.

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