South Mackay man David Routledge was killed at Middlemount Mine on Wednesday, June 26.
South Mackay man David Routledge was killed at Middlemount Mine on Wednesday, June 26. Contributed

Coal miner's wife pleads with company to save its workers

A DESPERATE plea for help from a coal miner's wife has been answered by the boss of Middlemount Coal.

Two days after the death of miner David John Routledge, a wife of his colleague was feeling helpless, angry and broken about the lack of consideration the company had for its workers' mental health.

Kelly Crous took to Facebook on Friday, June 28, to voice her disgust in the company after her husband worked as part of the emergency response team following Mr Routledge's death but received no counselling.

"I am shocked and appalled as I put my thoughts on paper as I don't know how else to express and voice a very valid and emotionally present issue," Kelly wrote.

"Middlemount coal you have failed, not just your employees but their partners and families.

"Not because you expect your mine and our miners to return to work ... but because you have failed to communicate and ensure the mental health of your workers comes first."

The lack of opportunities given to workers to "emotionally process" and understand what happened, appalled Kelly.

She called on the mine to enforce processes to ensure workers were counselled before returning to work.

"In a time where emotional health is at the forefront of overall wellbeing I would expect a company of your standards to at least meet the basic requirements to ensure this is achieved," she wrote.

"I as a wife have been emotionally broken.

"For me to continue to sacrifice my family to your company I need more than the 0 per cent support you have shown my husband.

"We as a family need to feel confident in sending our loved ones back to work. This incident goes beyond your workers and into their families."

She pleaded with the company to change its ways.

"Please take this opportunity to be a leading example within the mining industry as how to handle workplace tragedies instead of failing miserly," Kelly wrote.

"Please know this is not a spiteful attack on your company but a cry out from one of your miners' wives begging you to ... re-evaluate your procedures in adequately emotionally managing your employees and their families after such a tragedy."

The post has been shared 350 times, and has almost 1000 likes and more than 180 comments.

She not only attracted the interest of the Facebook community, her letter reached the top of the Middlemount Coal company.

Kelly made the post on Friday night and within 24 hours the company met with her for an in-person interview.

She said she was feeling positive about the future.

"Since meeting with them they have implemented all those things and there looks like there has been positive changes," Kelly said.

"I'm pleased that the communication level and support has definitely increased."

She said since typing the letter communication lines have been put in place.

"My aim for typing that letter was one to bring awareness and hopefully be able to reach them," she said.

"I was happy that they reached out and made the effort to have a chat."

Middlemount Coal chief executive officer Gerrie Jordaan said the company was prioritising its employees and their families following the incident.

"We recognise this has been a difficult time for every mine worker and their loved ones, but particularly for our people who worked alongside David Routledge and have been directly impacted by this tragic incident," Mr Jordaan said.

"We appreciate the importance of keeping our employees and their families well informed during this time and have made a commitment to providing regular updates.

The company are providing daily updates via email and a dedicated employee information line.

Mr Jordaan said there will also be two on-site, in-person communication sessions per day from the start of the next roster until further notice.

"Our employees' welfare is our highest priority, and we are committed to supporting our people as they come to terms with the loss of a valued workmate," he said.

All employees and their families have been provided with access to a free, confidential counselling service, which is available 24 hours a day.

Kelly said she looked forward to seeing the company implement and continue support services.

"My loved one who is one of your dedicated employees is not one of your machines, he is not replaceable like Dave was not replaceable to his family," Kelly said.


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