Industrial manslaughter laws now in place for Queensland resources sector

coal, industrial manslaughter
AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Australia’s toughest mine safety laws take effect from today with executives facing up to 20 years’ jail if Queensland resources sector workers die because of their criminal negligence.

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said industrial manslaughter became an offence today in Queensland’s resources sector – better protecting the state’s 66,000 sector workers.

As well, workers will have their own safety and health champion in a new independent resources safety and health authority.

“Sadly eight workers have died on the job in our mines and quarries in the past two years and just in May this year five miners were seriously injured at an underground coal mine,” Dr Lynham said.

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“In the 21st century this is unacceptable.

“I sincerely hope the new industrial manslaughter laws never have to be used and that instead everyone takes full responsibility for their obligations on site to protect the safety and health of our workers.

“Health and safety responsibility resides with everyone, from executives in head office to workers on site.”

A new independent statutory body – Resources Safety and Health Queensland – also exists from today. It has responsibility for regulating safety and health across the state’s mines, quarries, petroleum and gas sites, and the explosives supply chain. The regulator will report directly to the Minister.

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The changes complement a suite of sweeping mine safety and health reforms under the Palaszczuk Government, the most substantial suite of reforms in 20 years. They include:

  • better detection and prevention of black lung, and other mine dust lung diseases, and an improved safety net for affected workers.
  • increased maximum penalties for offences to $4 million and powers for the regulator to issue fines without going to court.
  • statewide safety reset sessions for mine and quarry workers to refocus on health and safety
  • $35 million to deliver reforms to improve the safety and health of our mine workers
  • powers to suspend or cancel statutory certificates of competency
  • a commitment to tighter controls on mine dust levels
  • extra mines inspectors.