2017 Daniel Springer

05/08/2017 - Goonyella Riverside Mine - Cutting and Welding

An employee of Independent Mining Services (IMS), Mr Daniel Springer, was fatally injured on 5 August 2017 while he was performing maintenance on the outside of an excavator bucket at the Goonyella Riverside Mine. The work involved removing an external wear plate of the bucket by cutting it into smaller pieces. While performing a cut, part of the plate unexpectedly sprung up and struck Mr Springer in the head.

Ambulances were called to the site in the early hours of Saturday morning and the miner was transported to Mackay Base Hospital and then to Townsville Hospital.

In a statement BMA confirmed a contractor from Independent Mining Services died as a result of injuries sustained in an incident that occurred during maintenance work at the Goonyella Riverside mine on August 5 2017.

The QLD Coroner released a report following an inquest on the 23rd of February 2021. The Inquest found: 

Conclusions and Findings

 100. I endorse the recommendations contained within the Nature and Cause Investigation Report prepared for the Chief Inspector of Mines.

 101. I acknowledge and endorse the ICAMS analysis commissioned by BHP and the findings, recommendations and implemented improvements arising therefrom.

 102. The scope of work to be undertaken by Daniel was ill defined when assessed against the risk. Individual boilermakers were required to exercise independent judgement as to how best remove a ‘novel’ wear plate package, presenting with significant damage and consequent stored damage. Daniel drew on his significant experience and utilised his knowledge and training. He was not aware the deterioration and damage to the plates accumulated stored energy such that upon release the metal would spring-back in excess of 1.15 metres.

 103. I accept that only in hindsight can it be understood that when confronted with these circumstances a usual approach could not be adopted to the methodology for removal.

 104. Daniels risk of injury was not within an acceptable level. A lack of knowledge regarding the behaviour of the metal plates under such conditions does not, and did not, negate the obligation to ensure the risk was acceptable and to keep him safe in the workplace. He was fatally wounded through no error on his part.

 105. The question which is almost unanswerable is whether knowledge of a spring-back event to of this magnitude under these conditions could have been acquired earlier. I take into account that there were no previous near misses of this type; no fatality arising in the same circumstances; no issue of inadequate or deficient training.

 106. I accept the ultimate submission of BMA that the lack of knowledge meant that  BHP, ESCO, DNRM did not and could not have recognised the potential for the wear plates to dislocate to the magnitude as occurred in this Incident. This lack of knowledge applied across the coal mining industry, including within the Queensland Mines Inspectorate. This absence of knowledge also afflicted the boiler-making and steel fabrication industry and the engineering and academic community. BHP now classify large wear plates of this type as a prohibited item.

 107. Daniel’s death is a tragic accident. Without knowing the inherent risk no control measure could have mitigated against the unprecedented magnitude of the spring-back in this instance.

 108. The learnings from this coronial investigation will not restore Daniel to his family. The decommissioning of wear packages of this type will however mitigate against further fatalities.


This accident claimed the life of Daniel Springer


Recommendation 1

Excavator buckets: It is recommended that multiple smaller wear plates are used in an alternative wear package. (See Figure 16). This design is consistent with the OEM design and is safer because the elastic spring-back potential is much lower than for the large wear plate design used in the incident bucket.

Recommendation 2

Other equipment: The hazard of elastic spring-back is not limited to excavator buckets.

Since the incident, anecdotal- and other evidence found from similar operations highlighted the hazards associated with plate structures that had been indented. A range of equipment types were involved. The common factor for all was that plate material had been plastically and elastically deformed during operations, resulting in residual stresses that later released violently.

Incidents included:

In two similar but separate incidents, workers were struck whilst removing indented sections near the rim of rear dump truck trays. Injuries occurred.

Violent elastic spring-back was observed during the removal of an under-tub wear plate from a dragline. The plate had probably been indented when the dragline was walked over an uneven surface.

A worker was struck on the head when a wear strip on an excavator bucket sprung out whilst he was gouging a weld that attached it to the bucket.

A worker was hit whilst he was removing a wear liner (push pad) from a dozer blade.

It is recommended that the above be considered before indented plate sections from any equipment are cut for removal.

Recommendation 3

All mines to ensure that they have a procedure within their SHMS that requires an effective risk management process to be carried out on any modification being made to plant and equipment prior to the modification being carried out.

Recommendation 4

If a modification to plant and equipment is changing the OEM’s design the above procedure must require the mine to consult with the OEM and / or an appropriate technical expert, such as an expert in materials and metallurgical engineering, prior to the modification being carried out.