To deter safety negligence in mines and quarries, the Queensland Parliament has passed new reforms that can sentence executives to 20 years’ jail for the deaths of their workers.
Quarrying and mining executives will face harsher punishments for the deaths of their employees, following the passing of new legislation in the Queensland Parliament.
Under the new legislation, Queensland’s mining and quarrying executives could face up to 20 years in jail if they have shown negligence that contributed to the deaths of their employees.
Queensland has 50,000 mine and quarry workers, and the new legislation aims to deliver a strong message to those in charge throughout the industry.
“This offence sends the clear message to employers and senior officers that the safety and health of their workers is paramount,” Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said.
According to Lynham, the new laws will push for safer quarry and mine activity in Queensland.
“Safety on a mine site is everybody’s responsibility,” he said. “But a safety culture needs to be modelled right from the top and creating the offence of industrial manslaughter is to ensure senior company officers do all they can to create a safe mine site.”
Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia (CCAA) state director of Queensland Aaron Johnstone has disputed the need for the new quarry manslaughter legislation.
“The quarrying industry aims to have no injuries and no fatalities on its site,” he said. “While the CCAA questions the need for industrial manslaughter provisions (and has expressed these concerns directly to the Minister and the Parliament), we note that it is a high bar for a prosecution to take place in the unfortunate scenario of a workplace fatality.
“The standard of proof in such a scenario requires a “criminal negligence test”. Such a test requires recklessness or gross negligence, and each element of the offence must be proven beyond reasonable doubt in order to convict an individual. We would urge quarry owners and executives to ensure they have the necessary systems and processes in place, not only to ensure that their workforce is safe, but to ensure they would be protected from the legislation’s penalties in the terrible case of a workplace fatality.”
The Queensland Government has in the past 10 months passed a number of industry-related safety reforms, including a maximum penalty of $4 million for offences, powers for regulators to issue fines without going to court and statewide safety reset sessions for mine and quarry workers.
“It is vital that quarry owners and staff holding positions of responsibility understand the legislation and their responsibility under the legislation,” IQA president Shane Braddy said. “This includes understanding the responsibility to have appropriate health and safety systems in place to prevent injury and to ensure workers have the required competencies, are trained and supervised to perform their roles.”
The IQA has continued to deliver ongoing training that supports the industry with the implementation of health and safety systems, risk management and steps to ensure zero harm to all workers.