FATALITY: The tailgate of this truck swung down on Mr Norman, fatally injuring him.
DETAILS of the death of Rix’s Creek truck driver Stephen Craig Norman have been made public in an initial report by mine safety investigators.
IMPLEMENTS: The shovel used to lever the truck tailgate open, and the pipe spanner used to prop it in place.
Although the “incident information release” published by the state government investigators does not apportion blame, it does explain how Mr Norman, who was 53, came to be crushed by the tailgate of a semi-trailer he was cleaning on the morning of Tuesday, December 13.
RIX’S CREEK: The coal handling plant near where Mr Norman and two colleagues were working, cleaning a truck.
The report says Mr Norman and two colleagues working for haulage contractorRW & LM Simmons had been assigned to clean three of the four trucks the company used at Rix’s Creek. The fourth was off the road for maintenance.
“Rather than using water to wash out the trailers, as had been the usual practice prior to that time, the task was undertaken manually,” the report said.
The report said Mr Norman “used a shovel to lever the tailgate open after the tailgate latching mechanism was released”.
“The two colleagues then lifted the tailgate high enough to allow the workerto prop the tailgate open using a pipe spanner.”
The report said Mr Norman climbed into the back of the trailer and “broke up the residual coal and material with the shovel”.
It took about 15 minutes to clean the truck and the second truck was brought to the mine’s coal handling plant at about 9.15am.
“The worker’s colleagues lifted the tailgate and held it while the worker placed the pipe spanner in place to prop open the tailgate,” the report said.
“As the worker attempted to climb into the trailer, the pipe spanner moved unexpectedly allowing the tailgate to fall and strike the worker’s head. The worker suffered critical head injuries. The worker was flown to the John Hunter Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery and was placed in an induced coma. He later died as a result of his injuries.”
In a closing set of “safety observations” the report said such cleaning should be done “at fit-for-purpose washing facilities that eliminate the need for persons to work underneath suspended and unsecured plant and equipment”. After more investigations, a further report would go to the NSW Coroner and the secretary of the Department of Industry.
Mr Norman’s funeral was at Beresfield on Friday, two days before Christmas Day.
Earlier Newcastle Herald report on Mr Norman’s death