Four new minerals and quarry inspectors have been recruited in Queensland as the state government forges ahead with its health and safety reform agenda.
Mark Ryan, the Acting Mines Minister in the Queensland Government, said the new appointees will be located at several regional centres across the state to protect workers, taking the state’s total number of inspectors for coal and metalliferous mines and quarries to 46.
He said the inspectors arrive with strong mining engineer credentials, including a combined 122 years of mining experience between them. They begin their roles in the next fortnight, with two starting at Rockhampton on 20 January and 3 February. The remaining two will be based in Mackay and Mount Isa from 3 February.
“The safety and the health of our 70,000 resource workers is paramount and our mine inspectors need to be close to where the mines are,” Ryan said.
“Two out of three of our inspectors are in regional Queensland because that’s where most of the mines are.
“Our resources industry is world-class and this demands strong, contemporary skills from our inspectors to work with industry and workers to enhance safety.”
Ryan said the newcomers joined a team of mines inspectors that serviced mines and quarries from Cape York in Far North Queensland to the south-east corner and west to the Northern Territory border.
“Having most of our inspectors in the regions gives workers and the industry more efficient access to our inspectors and more inspectors to help keep our mine and quarry works safe,” he said.
“That’s critical to implementing this government’s current and upcoming health and safety reforms.”
Those reforms include:
- Better detection and prevention of pneumoconiosis (or black lung), and an improved safety net for affected workers.
- Increased maximum penalties and powers for the regulator to issue fines without going to court.
- State-wide safety reset sessions for mine and quarry workers to refocus on health and safety.
- An investment of $35 million in reforms to improve the safety and health of mine workers.
- A commitment to tighter controls on mine dust levels.
- Legislation to go to Parliament this year to make industrial manslaughter an offence in the extractive industries, as it is in other Queensland workplaces.
- Legislation already before the Parliament to establish an independent resources health and safety authority.
Potential further reforms are also expected to flow from two independent reviews to be tabled in the first 2020 sitting of the Queensland Parliament, beginning in February.