WE don’t know what an injured mine worker thinks about the decision to halt the prosecution of Glencore’s Ulan Coal mine after an incident in October, 2015 involving high pressure pipe testing.
The mine worker is referred to many times in a decision of the Department of Planning’s Resources Regulator released on Wednesday. We know that the worker was employed by a contractor and that he was thrown off his feet during the incident when a pipe cap disengaged under pressure.
We know that his family was called to the hospital in the middle of the night after a call to say the worker had serious leg, hand and facial injuries. We also know he was employed on light duties by Ulan Coal for about 13 months until April last year, and that his permanent right leg injuries are assessed at 50 per cent, with 20 per cent diminishment of his back and 15 per cent of his left hand.
We don’t know how old he is, or what he thinks about the Resources Regulator accepting an enforceable undertaking from Ulan on April 4, that led the regulator to discontinue a prosecution launched in November.
The Resources Regulator’s $250,000 investigation costs will be paid by Ulan Coal which is a saving for taxpayers. The company is also required to pay about $250,000 in other programs for the industry, including a mental health seminar for workers at the six large coal companies that make up the western coalfields area between Denman and Mudgee.
It will also pay for something described as a “communication training package for industry”, which the Regulator, no doubt, has assessed as useful, but the details of which are left for the community to imagine.
The enforceable undertaking decision is available on the Resources Regulator’s website for the public to read but the absence of the injured worker from the decision to accept the enforceable undertaking is jarring. No doubt there is civil action underway leading to compensation for the worker, but it is right for the community to look at enforceable undertakings – and their explicit requirement that guilt not be admitted – and pause.
Prosecutions occur in courts that are open to the public.
Enforceable undertakings, while the decisions are made public, are between regulator and the accused.
We should keep watch on their use.
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