Queensland Mine Safety and Health Commissioner appointed

Tuesday, 04 August, 2009

The Executive Director of Safety and Health Division in Queensland Mines and Energy, Stewart Bell, has been appointed as Queensland’s first Mine Safety and Health Commissioner.

Announcing the appointment, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh stated: “The safety of our mine workers is paramount and that’s why we accepted and are implementing all 44 recommendations of a report by the Queensland Ombudsman in June 2008 about the Queensland Mines Inspectorate.

“This independent statutory position of Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health will reinforce the operational independence of the Queensland Mines Inspectorate. The commissioner will provide advice directly to the minister on mine safety and health issues [and] will act as an advocate for mine safety. The commissioner will also be responsible for commencing prosecutions under Queensland's various mining safety and health laws.

“Mine safety is not just an issue for workers; it includes mine operators and government as well. It’s too easy to sit back and watch the TV commercial about dad not coming come from work. Far too many Queenslanders have had this heart-wrenching scene live in their living rooms and not part of some fictional TV scene.

“There are inherent risks in mining, but no stone must be left unturned ensuring that every miner makes it home at the end of his or her shift. Sadly more than 1450 miners have died in mining tragedies in Queensland since we began mining in the 1800s.”

Bell has over 30 years' experience in mine safety and health, including extensive mine safety work in China and India. He is a Chartered Chemist, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists, Queensland’s representative on the steering committee of the National Mine Safety Framework and Chair of the Queensland Mines Rescue Service Technical Advisory Committee and the Coal and Metalliferous Safety and Health Advisory Councils.

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