Queensland ushers in tougher penalties for mine safety breaches

Queensland mine operators will face harsher penalties for breaking mine health and safety regulations under new legislation introduced to parliament.

Operators could be hit with up to $126,150 in fines under the Mines legislation (resources safety) amendment bill if they fail to meet their safety and health obligations to mine workers.

The bill increases a mine inspectorate’s current powers to audit or prosecute an operator or shut down a mine.

It proposes new powers for the chief executive to suspend or cancel statutory certificates of competency and issue senior executive notices if they fail to meet their safety and health obligations. This means that those officers will not be able to hold statutory positions at Queensland mine sites.

The bill also proposes higher levels of competency for ventilation officers at underground coal miners; new requirements for ventilation officers; ongoing statutory certificates to maintain high standards of professional competence throughout their careers; upgrades to safety and health at mines with 11 or fewer workers; and better protection for contract mine workers.

Queensland resources and mines minister Anthony Lynham said coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (black lung) is a reminder that there is “no place for complacency” when it comes to worker health and safety.

“Every worker has the right to go to work expecting to go home safely to their family at the end of the day and this must hold true for workers in Queensland mines,” he said.

“This bill is needed to ensure mine workers are supported by legislation that is effective and contemporary.”