P Fowler 1997

14/12/1997 - Cannington Mine - Workplace Injury / Electrocution

At about 10.45 am on Sunday, 14 December 1997, Mr Phillip Anthony Fowler was found in an unconscious state by Mr Scott Mead and Mr Brian Christie at the crib room of the 574 metre level (mLv) at the BHP Cannington mine.

An initial assessment of the situation by Christie and Mead indicated that Mr Fowler was lying on his back with a welding handpiece in his right hand that was resting on his chest.

The handpiece contained a welding electrode that was resting on the right side of his neck and the welding cables across and beneath his body.

The power was isolated at the main switch by Christie and the welding handpiece, electrode and cables removed from Mr Fowler. When the handpiece was removed an electrode burn was clearly visible on the right side of Mr Fowler's neck.

From the evidence presented to the Inquiry, we are satisfied that – 

  1. Mr Fowler, a boilermaker, was completing the fabrication and installation of the door and door frames of the Crib Room at the 574 mLv.  This work entailed the use of a Transarc Junior Welder Type TAD Z19, Serial Number AB5201 and Satincraft 13 electrodes.

  2. The electrode holder was found to be defective.

  3. He was not wearing protective gloves.

  4. The atmosphere in the work area was hot and humid and most probably, above the standard that required special precautions to be taken as per Part 2.3.2 of the Metalliferous Mining Regulations.

  5. Parts of the crib room floor, in particular the section where Mr Fowler was alleged to be working and eventually found, have been described as wet. 

  6. There was no evidence that special precautions had been taken. 

  7. Mr Fowler was working alone.

This accident claimed the life of Phillip Anthony Fowler


We acknowledge the development and implementation of the Cannington welding procedures, including the installation of voltage reducing devices (VRD's) on all alternating current welding equipment on site and would recommend the adoption of similar procedures and personal
protection devices for welding equipment at all mines.

Effective standard work instructions for working in heat must be developed, implemented and enforced.

Contractors and sub-contractors employed on mine sites must have effective safety management systems in place that clearly define the role and responsibility of supervisors and their interrelationship with the mine owners, agents or managers.

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