The Queensland Department of Mines and Energy (DME) has released a safety bulletin that clarifies what legislation is used and when on various mine sites during construction.
On a coal mine, the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 (CMSHA) applies to the construction activity, as it does to other work normally undertaken on the mine.
On a metalliferous mine or quarry, the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 (MQSHA) applies to construction work, as it does to other work normally undertaken on site.
According to the bulletin, there are no provisions for exemption from this in these Acts.
Construction work is included in the definitions of ‘on-site activities’ in the CMSHA and in the definition of ‘operations’ in the MQSHA.
As such, all construction work must be carried out in a manner that the risk of injury or ill-health to a person is at an acceptable level.
Construction work at mines includes construction of workshops, processing plant and wash plant, accommodation units and offices, buildings in general, fixed plants and mobile plant (including draglines and diggers).
Both the CMSHA and the MQSHA place clear obligations on all those involved in construction work on a mine including persons generally, holders, operators and site senior executives, contractors, designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant and erectors and installers of plant.
The legislation contains few specific requirements as to what standards must be adopted for construction work so that persons can discharge their obligations.
The legislation states that if there is no regulation, recognised standard or guideline in relation to the risk, a person may choose an appropriate way to discharge the obligation. However a person can only discharge their obligation if they take reasonable precautions and exercise proper diligence.
To take reasonable precautions and in order to exercise proper diligence where construction work takes place at a mine, the site senior executives should incorporate relevant standards and guides relating to construction work into their safety and health management systems. This would include those issued here and in other States, and Australian Standards.
Standards and guides adopted could include Australian Standards such as AS 1657 — Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders; AS 1576 — Scaffolding and AS 1418 — Cranes.
According to the Department, unless the construction or demolition work is designated as a separate mine, then the construction work and any contractors conducting that work are under the control of the mine site senior executive and the mine’s safety and health management system.
If the construction work is on a separate mine designated specifically for construction work, then the site senior executive for that separate mine must develop and implement a safety and health management system for that separate mine.