The safety and health of men and women who work in Queensland’s mines will be strengthened through a new industry safety and health levy.
Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson said the levy would boost the safety and health services provided by the state’s mine safety watchdog- the Mines Inspectorate.
“We’ve entered a new era of mining. We’re in boom times when it’s more important than ever to have a highly-skilled and well-resourced Mines Inspectorate,” Wilson said.
“The Mines Inspectorate provides vital safety and health services that help save lives and nothing is more important than that,” he said.
The Inspectorate undertakes safety inspections and audits of mines and quarries around the state, investigates mine accidents, provides industry guidance and mentoring, and maintains annual safety and health statistics from every mine and quarry.
“My Department of Mines and Energy also provides key research, development and training in mine safety and health,” he said.
Wilson said the Bligh Government would collect around $19.5 million from mines and quarries, explosives and industry employers and associated contractors in 2008-09, which represents three-quarters of the $26 million annual cost of safety and health services.
“We’re asking for $19.5 million from an industry worth $26 billion to Queensland in 2006-07,” he said.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for these vital safety and health services.
“We have the best mine safety legislation in Australia, and it must continue to be enforced from the ground up – mine by mine, employer by employer, worker by worker.
“That’s where the Mines Inspectorate steps in. It’s been revitalised to reflect a new, modern era of mining in Queensland.
“We’re well into the 2008 round of unannounced safety and health audits and inspections of mine sites around Queensland. This follows the success of last year’s audits that saw inspectors arrive, unannounced, at targeted mines.
“The sole purpose of the audits is to boost safety. Some of the findings hang a lantern on serious safety and health issues. That’s exactly what they were designed to do – to find faults and for mining companies to fix them,” Wilson said.
In another boost to mine safety and health, 10 new inspectors were appointed to the Mines Inspectorate this year, along with a new Chief Inspector of Coal Mines.
“A national recruitment drive swung into action to attract the best people. They will reap the benefits of a better career path backed by better training and remuneration,” Wilson said.
“We’re bringing on the next generation of mines inspectors, and they will join new occupational health and safety officers, occupational hygienists and other experts in mine safety and health,” he said.
The Minister said the safety and health levy would allow the Mines Inspectorate to expand even further.
“The Inspectorate will be able to recruit seven new specialist mines inspectors, two investigators, five scientific research staff, an occupational hygienist, a statistician and a manager of health surveillance,” he said.
The safety and health levy will come into play from 1 October 2008.
For the 2008-09 year, the levy for operations with 11 or more employees will be approximately $603, which is three-quarters of the full levy estimated at $804 per employee. For 10 or fewer employees the levy will be $75 per employee, which is three-quarters of the full levy of $100.
Department of Mines and Energy
1800 657 567