Celebrated miner fired for not reporting safety breach

Caval Ridge Mine.
Caval Ridge Mine. Lee Constable

SHE was a celebrated employee, the most senior and experienced female operator at BMA's Caval Ridge Mine.

But just two years after she was invited to meet then Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the mine's opening, she was sacked after not disclosing she drove a dozer through a zone potentially filled with explosives - although she said she had told her employers.

Now, Sarah Engel has had her unfair dismissal claim rejected by the Fair Work Commission.

Commissioner Jennifer Hunt, in her decision released on January 5, wrote that from the evidence given at the hearing, before Ms Engel's night shift on February 10, 2016 Ms Engel was told about an exclusion area at the mine due to an explosive misfire.

The misfire happened that day, after the drill and blast department had filled holes in the ground with explosives, detonators and boosters. One of these columns didn't fire. That area had been zoned off with cones 10m around the hole.

During that night the experienced operator, working for her contractors Central Queensland Services, was rotating between the dozer and shovel with another worker cutting through a big wall.

GPS information from the dozer showed the other worker had "dug a significant way through the exclusion zone, through the misfire itself, and then through to the outer side of the exclusion zone".

Later in the shift Ms Engel, as proven by GPS from the dozer when she was driving it, "entered the misfire exclusion zone" three times, twice getting within 6.5m and once within 10m of the misfire.

It was later shown to the Commission the explosives had been removed earlier that day but neither worker or their supervisor knew that.

In her evidence to Commissioner Hunt, Ms Engels stated she saw the exclusion cones placed to help workers identify the area but because the other worker had knocked over the front cones she thought the remaining cones were the start of the zone, not the end.

An investigation took place into the other worker driving into the zone. The supervisor and other worker were stood down on February 15 and March 15, 2016 respectively.

The Commissioner found that at this stage Ms Engel hadn't told the investigator she had driven into the zone and she knew the other worker had told the supervisor about incident.

In Ms Engel's evidence, she stated that when the investigator met with her to give her a final warning she said "the investigation had clearly failed".

"All the information must not have been collected otherwise I would not be receiving a first and final warning," her evidence read. "I alerted to (the other worker) that he had dug through the misfire, and that he had to report it to (the supervisor) and he told me he was doing so."

The Commissioner's decision found that CQS human relations manager "considered Ms Engel's actions in failing to report the incident unacceptable" and she "lost confidence in Ms Engel's ability to perform her role safely, and she did not hold any confidence ... should Ms Engel perform work at the mine" and Ms Engel was fired on April 15, 2016.

Ms Engel challenged her right to respond to the allegations before being fired but Commissioner Hunt found "I have had regard for the procedural fairness deficiencies above, and I am satisfied having determined that Ms Engel engaged in the conduct resulting in her dismissal, that despite the procedural fairness deficiencies, Ms Engel's conduct was of sufficient gravity to justify termination of her employment."

"I find that there was a valid reason for the dismissal."

Topics:  caval ridge employment fair work commission mackay miners

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Man in custody after Woodridge lockdown

An exclusion zone has been established on Nyanza St, bounded by Mikaga Crt and Strathdarr St to Kurrajong St and Nydia St, Woodridge.

An emergency situation declared following reports of a disturbance

Raining, pouring: Wet roads to strike SEQ peak hour

Dusty Ford and Amy Blovask take cover as storms roll in.

Motorists told to drive to conditions

Local Partners

Gateway Mwy in chaos after one killed in bike crash

ONE person has died after a motorbike and truck collided on the Gateway Motorway today, closing a section of the road.

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

Caitlyn comes home to launch debut album

Gympie's Caitlyn Shadbolt will launch here debut album Songs On My Sleeve at an exclusive all-ages concert in Gympie on Friday, May 26.

Win tickets to Caitlyn's album launch

Sam Armytage and Tom Cruise? Saaaaay what?

SAMANTHA Armytage has hit back at rumours she’s dating Tom Cruise, following reports the pair had hit it off during an interview on Sunrise.

Musical tribute to flood volunteers released

Songwriter honours flood volunteers who helped their neighbours.

Lismore songwriter Simon Thomas was moved by strangers' kindness

Karl Stefanovic's rant about Schapelle Corby 'a bit rich'

Karl Stefanovic is sick of hearing about Schapelle Corby.

Maybe he just wanted to make himself the story.

Could Schapelle be heading for Gladstone?

Australian Schapelle Corby is escorted by Bali Police at the parole office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, 27 May 2017.

Schapelle's mother teases her free daughter could be Gladstone bound

Six things you never knew about Men in Black

Mushu the pug

It's been 20 years since Men in Black first hit cinemas

10 strange stories behind famous sex scenes

Khaleesi and Khal Drogo in a steamy moment.

Every set has their own way of filming sex scenes

HBO spills new details on Game of Thrones’ final season

Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season will only have six episodes.

New details about what to expect from the eighth, final instalment.

New $46.7m counter-terrorism facility to be built in Wacol

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, pictured with Police Commisioner Ian Stewart, has announced plans to build a new counter-terrorism facility in Wacol.

The facility will be built over three years.

Home to a sex worker: Sordid history of iconic Coast shed

Milojevic Djordjevic's daughter Linda at the derelict shed on Yandina-Coolum Road.

The shed was once a liveable 'barrack'.

This is real estate's billion-dollar man

Bob Wolff at AREC with John McGrath of McGrath Real Estate.

They don’t call him the “Billion dollar man” for nothing

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Report reveals progress on $319m airport upgrade

Aerials of the Sunshine Coast.Jetstar plane in front of the Susnhine Coast terminal, Sunshine Coast Airport.

Over two dozen government approvals needed for airport expansion

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!