Quarry operator facing fines for 21-year-old's death

Sean Scovell
Sean Scovell Contributed

A CENTRAL Queensland quarry operator facing hefty fines for alleged safety breaches including failing to install guard-panels on its hazardous conveyor belt, has tried to blame a young worker for his own death in 2012.

In the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday, Mark Martin QC told Magistrate Penelope Hay that it appeared quarry plant operator Sean Scovell had "laid" or "crouched" down on a gangway and deliberately put his hand "well inside" the running conveyor belt because "it seems he was determined" to knock caked mud off to stop the conveyor from "squealing".

"It defies any thought process," Mr Martin said. "As tragic as it is, it would seem on the evidence that this accident was caused substantially by Scovell's own actions and not substantially by the existence of a guard or otherwise."

Scovell was killed instantly after his hand became caught at about 7.10pm on June 5, 2012 at the South Moranbah Quarry, operated by MCG Quarries.

Witnesses gave evidence during a five-day hearing earlier this month that they saw Scovell "trying to remove himself from the roller".

MCG Quarries Pty Ltd is charged with three counts of breaching health and safety obligations, CEO Tony Addinsall is charged with five counts of breaching health and safety obligations, and managing director William McDonald is charged with four counts.

The company that manufactured the conveyor belt, Global Crushers and Spares, was earlier this year convicted of failing to discharge their health and safety obligations because they did not install guards to cover dangerous sections.

Prosecutor Peter Davis QC told the court that MCG and its executives should be convicted of the charges because the "lack of guarding was a substantial cause" of Scovell's death.

SAD LOSS: Brett and Bonnie Scovell are distraught after the death of their 21 year old Son Sean in a mining accident. Photo: Scottie Simmonds / NewsMail
SAD LOSS: Brett and Bonnie Scovell are distraught after the death of their 21 year old Son Sean in a mining accident. Photo: Scottie Simmonds / NewsMail Scottie Simmonds BUN150612SON1

Mr Davis told the court that guarding would shield workers from the dangerous hazard of an "exposed" conveyor belt "pulley system" described as "a whirring drum with a razor sharp edge".

But Mr Martin argued there were clear signs warning Scovell of the dangers.

"There was a guard across the front of the gangway with a sign on it saying 'don't go up there'," Mr Martin told the court. "Not in our wildest dreams would we ever think that you would laid down on a gangway or crouch down in a low position and put your arm inside a gap that's 19 inches off the ground to remove mud off something, that's just not something we would ever contemplate."

Mr Martin said it was not part of Mr Scovell's job to "remove mud" and he acted "contrary to training".

Mr Davis told the court that Mr Scovell "may well have put his hand in or near the conveyor while it was running".

"Mr Scovell may very well have not turned off the machine, but … the question is whether the fact it is not guarded is a substantial cause of him becoming entangled in it," Mr Davis told the court.

"We don't say he may not have contributed to it," Mr Davis said.

Mr Davis told the court that under the Mine and Quarrying Safety and Health Act the quarry managers must reduce dangers to "as low as reasonably achievable".

Magistrate Hay has reserved her decision which is expected to be handed down within a month.

Topics:  bundaberg editors picks mining moranbah quarry sean scovell

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