Maintenance Products

What?s happening with the national mining competence strategy?

The National Mine Safety Framework (NMSF) pre-dated the push for harmonisation of occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation, and has been distracted by it, but it is progressing. The IQA, especially through its Products Committee, is monitoring and supporting developments in the NMSF. However, there are many other parties with an interest in national certification, so the task of achieving it is by no means easy.

There are, of course, many people who have multiple links within this network. For example, the IQA has a regulator representative on its Council, as well as another on its Products Committee. Members of the Council and of the Products Committee are on various advisory bodies. As a consequence, the IQA was able to anticipate the future for competency-based assessments when establishing its Quarry Management Certification System (QMCS).

As another example of the multiplicity of links and competence development, a member of the IQA?s Products Committee who is a former IQA president, as well as another former president, represents the quarrying industry on the NSW Metalliferous Mines and Extractive Industries Competence Board, whose priorities include:
? The development of standards of competence for [specified] functions in the mining industry.
? The maintenance of competence of those people performing functions.
? The development of standards for registered training organisations servicing the metalliferous mines and extractive industries.

A discussion paper on the maintenance of competence has been considered by the equivalent Coal Competence Board1 and is now being considered by the Metalliferous Mines and Extractive Industries Competence Board. All of this feeds into the national competence strategy.

The NMSF Steering Group, chaired by the Hon Clive Brown (a former Western Australian Minister for State Development) and comprising industry (including Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia, CCAA), workforce and government representatives, has formulated a plan to realise the goal of national consistency within the minerals industry, including extractive industries. There has been close consultation between the IQA and CCAA. This group finalised its recommendations for the implementation of the strategies in the NMSF Implementation Report2, which was subsequently endorsed by the then Ministerial Council on Mineral and Petroleum Resources (MCMPR) in October 2008 and by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 30 April, 2009. COAG comprises the Prime Minister, State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers, while MCMPR was a similar group comprising the Ministers responsible for Mineral Resources. MCMPR sat alongside the Workplace Ministerial Council, who was responsible for the harmonisation of occupational health and safety legislation.

Michael Alder, representing the NMSF Steering Group, has given an update of the progress of the NMSF3. In the report, he explains that the NMSF comprises seven strategies, with the following logic:
1. What standards of performance are expected of the minerals industry by the community? This is broken into two strategies, first the legislative framework for broad expectations and secondly, as a key sub-set of this, personal standards of performance, or competence support.

2. Are these standards being met? The third strategy focuses on compliance support and this is likely, in the first instance, to concentrate on how individuals will know what the standards mean for them. Ultimately, it may address both planned (inspections) and unplanned (investigations) evaluations of compliance.

If the standards are not being met, or the standards need improvement, four strategies may be needed, including the holistic enforcement spectrum, data (and information from data analyses), consultation including communication and participation, and research.

The stated aim of NMSF Strategy 2 ? competency support ? is to encourage and promote continuous skills development and competency nationwide for both the regulator and the industry.

Key participants in the NMSF strategy implementation are members of the Conference of Chief Inspectors? of Mines (CCIM), who, amongst other things, engage in State/Territory-based consultation and communication. In particular, they commonly chair or play a pivotal role in Boards of Examiners and advisory bodies. This group is a very effective means of communicating across jurisdictions, and commonly seeks strategic alliances with professional bodies such as the IQA. This group evidently desires national consistency with competencies and certification approaches, and is supportive of proper competency-based assessments, even for statutory positions.

Clive Brown has emphasised requirements for safety and health management systems for minerals operations, which go beyond the current provisions of the draft model OHS Act. He also stated ?further work is required to determine whether there is a need to clarify the existing regulation-making powers under the Model OHS Act to ensure adequate coverage of all relevant mining related OHS issues?.

The model Work Health and Safety Regulations, priority Codes of Practice and an Issues Paper are currently available on the Safe Work Australia website ( and the public comment period is open until 4 April, 2011.

This will not be the end of the matter; there is still a lot of hard work involved.

Graham Terrey was the NSW Chief Inspector for 17 years up to 2004, and a member of the group that formed the National Mine Safety Framework (NMSF). He has been a member of the IQA?s Products Committee since becoming Chief Inspector and helped construct the IQA?s Quarry Management Certification Scheme.

1. NSW Coal Competence Board. The system of training and continuing professional development for Certificate of Competence holders in the NSW coal industry. November 2009.
2. For a copy of the NMSF Implementation Report, email
3. Alder M. ?Different States, Single Goal: The journey towards a national OHS approach: What does it mean for your company?? A presentation to the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA Safety and Health Conference. 2010. Publications/Safety and Health Conf Speakers/

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend