Paul McGuire inquest shows why management accountability is critical in mines

Published: 25 May 2020

The findings of the Coronial Inquest into the death of mineworker Paul McGuire at AngloAmerican’s  Grasstree coal mine near Middlemount show the importance of ensuring managers are held accountable for upholding rigorous safety standards in mines, according to the Miners’ Union.

Coroner David O’Connell released his findings on Friday, and recommended that the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) consider possible legal action against an individual manager at the mine. The Coroner also found that the mine’s record keeping was “grossly deficient”.

CFMEU Mining & Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth welcomed the findings.

“The Coronial Inquest has not only resolved questions about how Paul McGuire died, it has exposed a culture of poor record-keeping in regard to safety issues.

“The Coroner found that a failure to provide accurate information to Mr McGuire directly led to his death.”

Mr McGuire died from methane exposure after opening the hatch to a sealed room in the ‘goaf’ area of the underground mine. The coroner found he had been sent to the area due to errors in the mine’s job card system, which had not been kept up to date. 

Mr Smyth said it had taken too long to uncover the disturbing facts behind Mr McGuire’s death, leaving his family and workmates waiting over six years for answers.

“The long wait for answers shows that tragic incidents like these must be fully investigated.

“Justice delayed is justice denied, and we now face another wait to find out if the Department will proceed with a prosecution against the individual named in the Coroner’s report.

“Workers need to be safe, and managers need to be accountable for safety on their watch.

“New laws extending Industrial Manslaughter provisions into the mining industry, which were passed last week by the Queensland Parliament, will mean that managers who fail to keep their workers safe can now face jail time.

“Too many workers like Paul McGuire have lost their lives in Queensland mines – we must do everything possible to stop these tragedies from happening in the future.”