NSCA Foundation

Qld resources sector could get new health and safety body

Monday, 16 September, 2019

Qld resources sector could get new health and safety body

Queensland’s resources sector could get a dedicated, independent health and safety body if a new Bill is successful. The Bill, introduced by Queensland Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham, 4 September, would see a newly formed statutory body take over the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy’s health and safety functions — freeing the department to focus on growing mining and exploration projects and the resources sector as a whole.

Under the legislation, the proposed body, ‘Resources Safety and Health Queensland’, would absorb Queensland’s mines, explosives and petroleum and gas inspectors, the Redbank Safety in Mine Testing Station and the coalmine workers’ health scheme which covers mine dust lung diseases, such as black lung. It would report directly to the Minister, instead of through a department, and be subject to monitoring and review by an independent commissioner for mining and quarrying, petroleum and gas and explosives.

The proposal follows recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee into coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, all 68 of which were either government supported or supported in principle. According to the Queensland Government, the Bill represents the third major package of reforms to mining health and safety in as many years, with the current regulator being given powers to issue fines without going to court for mine health and safety breaches and maximum court penalties increased to $4 million last year.

The government has also introduced changes to better prevent and detect black lung disease among coal workers and provide a safety net for affected workers. Lynham said the re-identification of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and the six mining and quarrying fatalities highlighted the importance of a transparent, independent safety and health body. “Queenslanders want to see a strong regulator, fully independent and at arms-length from the industry it is regulating,” he said. The Bill supports the recent commitment by the government and mining and quarrying industry to improve safety culture, with stakeholders carrying out safety reset sessions at worksites throughout July and August, in light of the six mine and quarry worker deaths that have occurred over the past 12 months.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Michael Evans

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