Safety reps missing from mines

A number of Queensland coal mines don't have an onsite safety representative.

It comes only weeks after a Queensland mining safety inspector warned that miners' lives are being put at risk by inexperienced safety officers and supervisors.

CFMEU mine safety inspector Greg Dalliston said secrecy, distrust and incompetence is putting miners lives on the line.

His comments came just days after a worker was killed at a Queensland quarry after he became entangled in a conveyor and ahead of the Queensland Government's report covering mine safety in February.

The report states that during the month there were 183 "serious and high potential incidents, 28 of which involved vehicles losing control, 25 where vehicles collided, and 28 involving explosives.

Dallison said the most dangerous aspect in mining however remains the lack of competent supervisors.

"Inexperienced management is at the top of the list," Dalliston said.

"I'm talking about the supervisors in place at mostly open-cut mines.

"They are high-turnover positions and some of them will push production to just about let anything happen.

"They do not know what's going to happen and should not be there."

He went on to say that there is also the added risk of contractors not reporting safety issues as they feel it may put their job at risk.

Now it has been revealed that many mines do not even have supervisors, according to The Morning Bulletin.

It is believed that at least five of the major Bowen Basin coal mines may not have safety reps on site, people who act as front line workers to report unsafe conditions at mines.

Four BMA coal mines may be have been without safety representatives during operations, and at least one Rio Tinto mine is believed to have operated without its critical staff.

The appointing of these safety representatives is currently one of the key sticking points in the ongoing negotiations between BMA and mining unions.

The unions says one of their principle arguments is over who is responsible for monitoring safe work practices, demanding its members supervise, while BMA stated that it wants to choose its own safety supervisors – even if they are not a member of the union.

The miner was slammed by the Australian Council of Trade Unions for its position on safety supervisors.

"We condemn BHP's pursuit of safety deregulation that would transfer vital safety roles from qualified workers on the job to management," it said.

CFMEU district chief Steve Smyth said BMA is attempting to take mine safety out of the pit and into the office".

BMA rejected this.

"Make no mistake, this is an industrial agenda and is about union benefits and union job security and not about safety," Dumble said.

"By contrast, our focus is on the future, on building a larger, more competitive business. A business that is able to create more opportunity for our employees, for our communities and for our other stakeholders."

Regarding the apparent vacancies at the Queensland coal mines, a spokesperson from BMA told the Bulletin it was "not unusual" for these roles to be empty, but that it did not affect safety reportage.

Rio Tinto confirmed there was a vacancy at one of its mines, but was quick to add that a short term replacement was quickly found.

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