Daniel Springer died while working at Goonyella Riverside Mine in August 2017.
Daniel Springer died while working at Goonyella Riverside Mine in August 2017.

CQ mine death equipment a ‘ticking time bomb’

A CENTRAL Queensland mine contractor has been described as a "top bloke" by a workmate who labelled the equipment that caused his death a "ticking time bomb".

Daniel Springer had been working on an excavator bucket at Goonyella Riverside Mine when he was fatally injured on August 5, 2017.

Workmate Jesse Abbott, from Tweed Heads, who was the first responder at the scene and gave evidence today in Mackay Coroners Court, later said that Mr Springer's death "shouldn't have happened".

"Keeping the guy alive was my main priority; I put him in the best position I could, then it was instant - helmet off, jacket off, gloves off - ran to the two-way," Mr Abbott said.

"I called, 'emergency, emergency, emergency, we have a causalty who has been hit in the head with a lump of steel' and I didn't hear anything, - not even static. It was heart wrenching."

It was just before 1am when 30-year-old Mr Springer, an Independent Mining Services worker, had been removing a large external wear plate by cutting it into smaller pieces when a section sprang back, striking him in the head causing a fatal injury.

The usual external wear plates were made up of smaller thin plates.

But a number of excavator buckets at that mine underwent a refurbishment resulting in the smaller plates being replaced with two large plates.

Mr Springer was cutting the plates into more manageable pieces.

"The wear plate in the bucket had a tension in it that was like a cocked cross bow - like a ticking time bomb, waiting to pop," Mr Abbott said.

"I think about it almost every day and haven't worked a day since, it shouldn't have happened."

A coronial inquest into the death at Goonyella Riverside Mine began today and will examine issues including why the equipment had to be removed, Mr Springer's work method and his qualifications.

"Today has been a long time coming; we need to get answers. I want Justice for Daniel and I want closure for his family," Mr Abbott said.

"Daniel was a top bloke, he was enthusiastic, willing to teach, he didn't care if you weren't a top dog, he had no ego and he was great to work with."

Since witnessing the horrific incident, Mr Abbott has been severely affected and unable to work.

"I had my whole life planned up there in Mackay and after this horrific incident I lost everything and the job I loved because I had to go home and live off my mum," Mr Abbott said.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers compensation law specialist Jeremy Roche said as the witness and first responder to the confronting workplace fatality, Mr Abbott had suffered "a severe psychiatric condition".

"Jesse is courageous for standing before the inquest today to bear testimony to the horrific workplace mining death of a colleague he highly regarded," Mr Roche said.

A Central Queensland mine worker also testified at the inquest that the equipment Mr Springer had been removing was uncommon at that mine.

Field maintenance worker Jack Alexander, who had worked at Goonyella at the time, said it was the first time he had had "dealings with them at the mine".

It had been decided the plates would be replaced onsite and Mr Alexander said to his knowledge it was the first time this had been done.

The court heard new equipment had since been introduced so workers no longer had to remove the plates.

The inquest continues.