PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Queensland Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham has introduced legislation to Parliament to establish an independent safety and health regulatory statutory body, as the state-wide safety reset is completed.
Lynham noted that the new body, Resource Safety and Health Queensland, which would be funded by a levy on resources companies, would include already-independent mining inspectors as well as excising safety and health functions currently within the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.
“This separates the job of protecting the workers from the job of growing and facilitating mining and exploration projects and the resources sector as a whole,” Lynham said.
“This is yet another in the suite of reforms the government has put in place over the past five years to protect the safety and health of our resources sector workers.”
The establishment of the independent body flows from the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee into coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.
The committee made 68 recommendations, all of which the government supported or supported in principle.
The Bill represented the third major package of reforms to mining safety and health in the past three years.
Last year, the regulator was given powers to issue fines without going to court for mine safety and health breaches, and maximum court penalties were increased to A$4-million.
The government has also introduced sweeping changes to better prevent and detect black lung disease among coal workers, and provide a safety net for affected workers.
The Bill’s introduction comes just weeks after a commitment by all mining and quarrying companies to improve safety culture, including safety reset sessions on all worksites statewide, following the deaths of six mine and quarry workers over the past 12 months.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) on Thursday welcomed the release of official figures that show 96% of workers in Queensland’s resources and quarry sectors have completed safety resets.
QRC CEO Ian Macfarlane said the resources industry has been fully engaged in the reset process, underscoring the sector’s commitment to safety for all workers.
“Safety is the number one priority in the resources sector. It’s not just words, it’s the reality for everyone who works in or with our sector. From day one when the reset was first proposed at a meeting with industry, government and unions, resources companies have made this their top priority.
“Although the circumstances that have led up to the reset are tragic, the reset process has had a positive impact on the safety settings for the sector in the long term.
“Each safety reset was implemented according to site-specific circumstances and specific fatal risks,” Macfarlane said.
Lynham on Thursday said that the safety reset was ‘just the beginning’.
“Workers, unions, industry and government must all continue to work tirelessly so that every worker returns home safely after every shift. The most important thing to come off site is Queensland’s workers,” Lynham said.