The Queensland Government has appointed three additional mines inspectors and another chief inspector as the resources industry grapples with recent mine-related tragedies.
Mines and quarries in the state will implement a safety reset by the end of August for discussions between management, operational staff and relevant union representatives on risks and safe practise.
The move follows the announcement of two independent reviews investigating why mine workers have died over the past 20 years and how industry can improve, while also looking into the effectiveness of the state’s mining health and safety legislation.
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the industry body “has committed to work with the government on the two safety reviews established by Minister Lynham,” alongside the safety reset.
“The objective must be to reach every worker across every shift, therefore these resets will be tailored to the individual sites and their various rostering and operational requirements,” Macfarlane said.
“QRC will work with the employee representatives – the CFMEU and the AWU – to ensure our industry has the most robust safety culture it can and that two-way conversations between management and operational staff are ongoing.”
The QRC also announced it would participate in a safety forum with its members at the annual Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference next month.
It also promised to work with the government on reforms to strengthen safety culture in the resources sector, including further discussions on sanctions for reckless behaviour, as well as the government’s proposal for legislation on the offence of ‘industrial manslaughter.’
The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) voiced its concerns at a crisis meeting with state government representatives, urging them to introduce better safety regulations for Queensland mines.
“At this meeting, we made it clear that more needs to be done to hold the mining industry and safety regulator accountable for worker safety,” AWU Queensland branch secretary Steve Baker said.
The AWU has made calls for the state government to pass laws that allow workers and the AWU to appeal and dispute decisions of the safety regulator and introduce new and improved protections for workers from being targeted by their employer for raising a safety issue.
They have also called for the passing of legislation to create the offence of industrial manslaughter.