New safety body lines up for resources workers

coal, resource workers
BHP has voted to stay in the Minerals Council of Australia. Environmental Change and Security Program/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Queensland’s 66,000 resources workers will have their own health and safety “champion” after Queensland Parliament has supported a new independent body.

Speaking after Parliament passed legislation, Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the state’s resources workers could now rely on an organisation with one job–keeping them safe at work.

“The new Resources Safety and Health Queensland will be 100 per cent focussed on workers,” he said.

“It will be totally separate from the government’s broader function of growing and facilitating mining and exploration projects and the resources sector as a whole.

“Queensland already has some of the toughest mine safety and health laws in the world.

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“From July 1, when RSHQ kicks off, 70,000 resources workers will have their own health and safety champion.”

The new authority will regulate the safety and health of the state’s minerals, coal, petroleum and gas, quarry, small-scale mining and explosives workers. It will comprise:

  • almost 90 inspectors of coal mines, mineral mines and quarries, explosives and petroleum and gas
  • Queensland’s world-leading Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station, Simtars, and
  • the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme.

The chief executive officer will report directly to the minister and be required to have a professional qualification relevant to the resources industry and professional experience in the resources sector.

The new authority will be up and running from July 1.

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Dr Lynham said the establishment of the new regulator was the latest in the Government’s suite of sweeping mine safety and health reforms.

Those reforms include:

  • legislation currently before the House creating the offence of industrial manslaughter, bringing resources workplaces in line with all other Queensland workplaces
  • better detection and prevention of black lung, 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
  • a commitment to tighter controls on mine dust levels
  • extra mines inspectors.