Tasmania debuts new safe mining laws

Tasmania has added new requirements to its workplace safety laws to make mining safer in the State.

The new mine safety requirements have been added to the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 and the Workplace Health and Safety Regulations 1998, and come into play today.

These latest requirements were developed by employers groups and unions.

The Tasmanian minister for workplace relations, David O’Byrne, said “the mining industry is a vital economic contributor to our state, and deserves a clear and relevant set of safety laws to help protect its workers, and avoid costly accidents.

“The tragic mining accidents at Renison and Beaconsfield brought home to Tasmanians the risk involved in underground mining. We’ve listened carefully, and acted on the findings of the Coronial inquests into those accidents – including the recommendation for mine-specific safety regulations.”

Late last year, a coronial inquiry found that the death of a Tasmanian coal miner in 2000 was avoidable, and the fault of his employers and due to the inaction of the safety authorities.

The new mine specific laws include the requirement for each mine to implement a health and safety management system, to protect the health and safety of mine workers and other who may be exposed to risks arising from mining operations; the mine operator to appoint a site senior officer with requisite knowledge or qualifications according to particular characteristics of the mine; and specific safety measures for particular hazards, including those in relation to ground control, atmosphere and ventilation, vehicles and other mobile plant.

These new additions to the Act were implemented as there were few provisions targeting the specific hazards found in mining.

Some of these new requirements will not be applied immediately to existing mines, with smaller mines given until 1 January 2012 to implement it, whereas large mines have two months from today.  

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