The Queensland Parliament has passed legislation to set up an independent health and safety body for workers in the resources sector.
The legislation, passed by state Parliament on Tuesday, puts into action the Queensland government’s Resources Safety and Health Queensland Bill 2019 – based on the recommendations of the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP) select committee.
The new regulatory body, named Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ), will start work from July 1 and will regulate the safety and health of the state’s minerals, coal, petroleum and gas, quarry, small scale mining and explosives workers.
Queensland’s Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the new regulator would focus on enhancing safety of Queensland’s 70,000 resources workers.
“It will be totally separate from the government’s broader function of growing and facilitating mining and exploration projects and the resources sector as a whole,” Lynham said.
RSHQ’s main function will be to administer the resources safety acts, and to further their purposes. Its other functions will be to protect and regulate the safety and health of persons in the resources industry, monitor legislative compliance, and carry out incidental commercial activities.
RSHQ will comprise of almost 90 coal mines, mineral mines and quarries, explosives and petroleum and gas inspectorates. It will also include the Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station (Simtars) – a commercial business unit of the Queensland government department of natural resources, mines and energy.
The Queensland Government’s coal mine workers’ health scheme is another scheme that will be regulated by the Resources Safety and Health Queensland body.
The RSHQ chief executive officer will report directly to the state’s mines minister and be required to have a professional qualification relevant to the resources industry and professional experience in the resources sector.
Queensland government is implementing new mine safety reforms which include, among other measures, better detection and prevention of black lung, increasing maximum penalties for offences to $4 million and $35 million to deliver safety reforms.