New team to oversee mine safety

SAFEWORK SA is forming a new team to specifically address safety in South Australia’s booming mining industry.

SAFEWORK SA is forming a new team to specifically address safety in South Australia’s booming mining industry.

The Mines and Major Hazard Facilities Team will not only deal with safety issues in the mining industry, but will also oversee the safety of facilities such as those in the oil, gas and chemical industries, which may be classified as major hazard facilities.

Recruiting is currently underway with experts in mining, quarrying and major hazard facilities being signed up by SafeWork SA.

The team will be led by Simon Ridge, who has 30 years experience with open pit and underground mining operations in Zambia, Botswana, and Western Australia.

Since 1990, Ridge has also investigated many incidents including the WMC Olympic Dam fatality in July 2005.

He has just completed the investigation into the Quin Investments factory blast near Gladstone in May 2006. The team’s formation coincides with the tabling of the Dangerous Substances and Major Hazard Facilities Bill 2006 before the Parliament later this year.

The Bill will require declared ‘major hazard facilities’ such as mines, gas and oil facilities to submit detailed safety plans to demonstrate that they have identified and dealt with all risks including possible security threats.

“This team will play a key role in working with industry to ensure that safe work practices are paramount,” says SafeWork SA Executive Director, Michele Patterson.

“The team will be pivotal in working with some of the biggest employers in the country to protect South Australians in what is lucrative but potentially dangerous work.”

“Even the most hazardous of jobs can be done safely provided the proper safety regimes are in place,” Patterson said.

“This new team’s role will be to ensure there are appropriate levels of support to assist employers in making sure those safety regimes are implemented and adhered to, and to provide a fast and easily identifiable point-of-contact for these industries.

“Mining holds great promise in boosting the South Australian economy, but we must ensure that economic growth does not come at the expense of the health, safety and welfare of those engaged in that activity,” Patterson said.

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