Michael Chaplin was a Drill and Blast Engineer in the open cut operations of Ulan for Moolarben Coal Operations in NSW. Chaplin was responsible for drafting topographical aerial photographs and implementing the blasting procedures, exclusion zones and ensuring the risk management of the blast fumes. On 17 May 2017, Chaplin arranged both the primary and secondary firing locations of the blast pad. The primary location was 500m from the blast with the secondary location being 246m away. With no discussion regarding the safety or suitability, the decision was made by the workgroup to conduct the blast from the secondary firing location; breaching the required 500m exclusion zone. Chaplin did not inform the Blast Crew that the secondary location was not safe. Subsequently, the blast projected flyrock in the direction of the Blast Crew and the vehicles. No worker was injured but the crew was exposed to the blast fumes. A 20kg flyrock damaged a vehicle from the blast. 


Chaplin has pleaded not guilty to breaches of duties pursuant to s 28 and a further charge of a category 2 offence under s 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW). Judge Scotting granted leave until the end of the month to the prosecution. 

Case Note