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March 4, 2013

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Mine workers fired for ‘breaching safety’ during crazy dance stunt

Up to 15 mine workers in Australia who posted a video of themselves online performing the Harlem Shake dance craze have been sacked for breaching health and safety rules.

According to the West Australian newspaper, the workers, including one employed by an electrical contractor and up to 14 Barminco staff, were told they had breached safety and undermined the mining company’s reputation.

The Harlem Shake is the latest dance craze to sweep the Internet. The videos last for around 30 seconds and feature part of the song ‘Harlem Shake’ by electronic musician Baauer. Usually, a video begins with one person dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people seemingly not paying attention, or unaware of the dancing individual. The video then cuts to the entire crowd, some wearing strange costumes and outfits, performing a crazy convulsive dance for the final 15 seconds. As of just a few weeks ago, around 4000 Harlem Shake videos were being uploaded to the Internet every day.

After the mine workers filmed their own version of the dance in an underground pit at Agnew gold mine, and posted it online, the clip went viral on YouTube and the men were fired. A dismissal letter seen by The West Australian shows that Barminco banned the workers for life from working on any of its projects.

The letter is said to show the mining firm considered the stunt a safety issue and a breach of its “core values of safety, integrity and excellence”.

However, one of the workers accused the company of being heavy-handed, refuting suggestions that the group jeopardised safety during the 30-second stunt. The unnamed worker said they had discussed safety before performing their routine and abided by requirements for wearing helmets, portable oxygen and other safety equipment. He added the group had performed the dance on supported ground in the underground mine at 2.30am nearly a fortnight ago, adding music to the video the next day.

However, he admitted they had breached rules by taking off their long-sleeved shirts, which they apparently did to prevent Barminco’s name from showing up in the video clip.

Speaking to the BBC, Sven Lunsche from Gold Fields, which owns the mine, said: “Safety and mining are absolutely pivotal and that is the main reason why Barminco acted in the way it did.”

The unnamed worker said some of the sacked men had been with the company for up to eight years and were devastated at losing their jobs over the stunt.

The video below shows the miners doing the Harlem Shake.

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11 years ago

The workers appear to have done a correct risk assessment to ensure their safety and the reputation of the company, Barminco. They even removed their liveried clothing to avoid reputational damage to the company, Barminco.

It would appear that it is Barminco that has drawn attention to itself by sacking these former proud and long serving Barminco staff. Until reading this article I didn’t know what the ‘Harlem Shake was; thanks to the action of Barminco, I do now!

11 years ago

Like most things that can get blamed on health and safety. Maybe the company were looking to make layoffs and hey presto you find a perfect opportunity.

11 years ago

Well said.
Can’t see the safety implication – productivity maybe – but surely just a good ticking off would do the job. Sad

11 years ago

Breaching safety or a lack of humour? Given the length of time these guys have worked satisfactory for the company, this seems like a heavy handed approach that will do the opposite, to what their former employer will claim was their reason for taking action. Don’t claim breaches of safety when what you really mean is something you don’t like