THE recent coronial inquest into the death of a contractor at the Foxleigh Coal Mine in the Bowen Basin, highlights the challenges of the increasing reliance on contractors to provide services on mine sites, and recommendations to make the ‘zero harm’ goal a reality, according to a legal professional.
The inquest found that the failures of various parties at the Foxleigh Coal Mine led to the fatality.
McCullough Robertson senior associate Cameron Dean said that failure to have an effective health and safety procedure in place had serious legal implications for mining corporations, labour recruitment agencies and facilitators of safety procedures.
“It is very difficult for many mine operators to have every skill set available within their organisation to get the job done,” Dean said
“However, mine operators and senior site executives have specific obligations under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 (Qld) and in order to discharge those obligations it is insufficient to rely on contractors to ensure that their own health and safety obligations are being effectively carried out.
“It is clear from the Coroner’s findings that the systems in place to manage a contractor’s activities are one of the most important elements in ensuring health and safety at a mine,” Dean said.
Huge growth in the mining industry means that reliance on contractors is often a commercial imperative.
“However, failure to properly manage and control contractors to ensure that there is effective training and to ensure that workers have proper knowledge and skills could lead to further tragedies in addition to the four deaths that have marred the booming industry in the last 12 months.”
Dean said it is imperative mine operators learn from past mistakes so they can take steps to ensure a ‘zero harm’ approach for all employees.