Canadian Mining Company Fined After Preventible Arc Flash Incident

Perth, Australia – First Quantum, a British Columbia-based mining company, has been fined $65,000 by a court in Perth for safety failures that led to a preventible arc flash incident dating from 2011. Unfortunately, First Quantum had identified the potentially deadly workplace danger months before an employee was hurt.

First Quantum Minerals employee Shane Russell suffered burns from an arc flash while working inside an electrical substation at its now-closed Ravensthorpe nickel operation in the southern portion of Western Australia. Mr. Russell was struck by a potentially fatal electrical discharge, suffering burns to his left hand and left side of his face. Russell was hospitalized but did not ultimately suffer any permanent injurypreventible arc flash.

Australia’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety said there was no “hard barricade” behind the isolator to prevent accidental contact with uninsulated live bus bars. The department found an internal investigation conducted by First Quantum into an incident in early 2011 and an internal report that identified the danger of working on the motor control center without full isolation. According to that internal document, the potential consequence of an arc flash re-occurrence was identified as being “major” and the likelihood was “possible.”

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