Industry News

New independent regulator proposed for Queensland

On 4 September, Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham introduced legislation to establish the new statutory body called Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ), which will assume regulatory powers currently within the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME).

It comes as 49,400 (96 per cent) mine and quarry employees in the state took part in “safety reset” meetings between July and the end of August. The measure, with a 31 August deadline, was introduced in response to ongoing health and safety concerns in the state where six mine and quarry workers died in less than 12 months.

Lynham said RSHQ would be funded by a levy on resources companies, and include already independent mining inspectors. Its establishment would also involve “excising” the safety and health functions that sit under the DNRME.

{{quote-A:R-W:175-I:2-Q:“Queenslanders want to see a strong regulator, fully independent and at arm’s-length from the industry it is regulating. That’s what the new RSHQ will deliver” -who:Dr Anthony Lynham, Queensland Mines Minister}}“This separates the job of protecting the workers from the job of growing and facilitating mining and exploration projects and the resources sector as a whole,” Lynham said, adding that recent events highlighted the importance of a transparent, independent safety body.

“Queenslanders want to see a strong regulator, fully independent and at arm’s-length from the industry it is regulating. That’s what the new RSHQ will deliver, with a sole focus on the safety and health of our resources industries’ workers.”

Under the new legislation, RSHQ will include Queensland’s mines, explosives, and petroleum and gas inspectors, as well as the Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station at Redbank, near Ipswich. It will also encompass the coal mine workers’ health scheme that covers mine dust lung diseases, including black lung.

RSHQ will report directly to the minister rather than through a department, and will be subject to monitoring and review by a separate, independent commissioner for mining and quarrying, petroleum and gas, and explosives.

Establishment of the independent body follows the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee into coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.

Safety reset 'just the beginning'

Meanwhile, Lynham released figures for the number of mining and quarrying employees who had completed ‘safety reset’ meetings, as part of an urgent response to the health and safety problem across the state.

“In July, this Government, workers’ representatives and industry committed to work together and conduct safety reset sessions at every worksite, attended by every worker, by the end of August,” he said.

“I can advise that more than 49,400 workers have joined management and union representatives to take part in 1115 safety resets at more than 219 mines and quarries.

“I am pleased that the safety resets have been embraced but this not the end. This is just the beginning – as every shift should be when it comes to safety. Workers, unions, industry and government must all continue to work tirelessly so that every worker returns home safely after every shift.”

Lynham said the remaining workers who had not attended resets were itinerant or campaign-based quarry workers, or people employed on alluvial and small-scale mines across several hundred sites.

For sites that were yet to complete their safety meeting, Lynham urged employees to come forward. “If any worker at any site has not had a reasonable opportunity to participate in a reset, please raise this immediately with your union or your employer.

“I encourage companies to examine attendance records to ascertain which employees – if any – have not attended a reset so catch-up sessions can be organised if required in the coming weeks.”

According to Cement Concrete Aggregates Australia estimates, almost 180 Queensland quarry sites, representing almost 2400 workers, completed the safety reset.


More reading:
Safety deadline passes as MP warns non-compliant operators
Fatalities force Queensland extractive sector to take stock
Mine safety: Too much, too far?
Challenging ourselves, our records on safety?
Workplaces urged to scrub up on safety

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