Coronial inquest into death of miner at Foxleigh Mine


AN INVESTIGATION into the death of an experienced truck driver after a tyre exploded at a mine site revealed "a great deal of confusion" over the correct inflation pressure of a tyre.

Wayne Robert MacDonald was at the end of a 12-and-a-half hour shift when he was killed at Foxleigh Mine on December 18, 2010.

The 53-year-old was in the gap between two sets of tyres underneath the trailer attached to a prime mover, having just changed a tyre.

Although two other men were at the site when Mr MacDonald was killed, neither witnessed the explosion that occurred about 6am. Mr MacDonald had pulled into "the mailbox", which was the designated location at Foxleigh Mine to change a tyre.

The tyre chosen to replace the flat tyre had had the words "slow leak" painted on the side wall. These words had been crossed out and the word "ok" was painted there.

Mr MacDonald inflated the tyre to 110psi. He had just finished changing a flat tyre and had released the "bottle jack". When the replacement tyre was lowered onto the ground, it exploded.

At the inquest into his death, which began yesterday, John Aberdeen, Counsel assisting Central Queensland Coroner David O'Connell, said the "inner side wall of the inside tyre" had failed in what was called a "zipper failure".

The tear in the side wall "was sudden and catastrophic" resulting in a "powerful torrent of air" escaping, he said.

Mr MacDonald "suffered the full force to his chest and upper body" and died at the scene.

An audit was done on Anglo American's Foxleigh Mine operation as part of a Mines Inspectorate investigation. The tyres of four prime movers and trailers were examined.

Mines inspector John Slade, who was the lead investigator, said there was "some confusion" from the employees who measured the tyre pressure about what the correct tyre pressure should be.

A range of figures was given including 100, 110, 120, 125 and 130psi.

Mr Slade admitted he didn't check the pressure of the tyres of the vehicle involved in the incident in the days following Mr MacDonald's death.

Mr Slade said a forensic examination of the tyre that exploded showed the previous repair and the zipper failure weren't connected.

Mr Aberdeen asked Mr Slade whether an Australian standard for tyre capacity would have to be driven by the Mines Inspectorate; he said it was something his office could do.



A CORONIAL inquest into the death of Wayne Robert MacDonald began today.

Mr MacDonald was killed at Middlemount's Foxleigh Mine on December 18, 2010.

He had just changed a tyre on one of the trailers attached to the prime mover he was driving.

As he released the jack and the replaced tyre took the weight of the trailer it exploded killing Mr MacDonald.

The inquest will examine a number of issues including where, when and how Mr MacDonald died, what caused the tyre to fail, what steps could be taken to minimise the risk of changing a tyre and if the practice of changing a tyre can me improved and if safety in mining can be enhanced in respect to changing a tyre.

Topics:  coronial inquest death mackay middlemount miner

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