Queensland’s hard-hitting mine and quarry safety laws have become active as of 1 July, with senior officers facing potentially more severe penalties for workplace fatalities.
On 1 July, industrial manslaughter became an offence in Queensland’s resources sector.
Queensland Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham hopes this will protect resources workers and reduce fatal accidents.
“Sadly, eight workers have died on the job in our mines and quarries in the past two years and just in May this year five miners were seriously injured at an underground coal mine,” he said.
“In the 21st century this is unacceptable.I sincerely hope the new industrial manslaughter laws never have to be used and that instead everyone takes full responsibility for their obligations on site to protect the safety and health of our workers.
“Health and safety responsibility resides with everyone, from executives in head office to workers on site.”
The state has also introduced new independent statutory body Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ). The body has the responsibility for safety and healthy regulation across the state’s mines, quarries, petroleum, gas sites and explosives supply chain. The new regulator will report directly to the minister.
Queensland’s resources sector has about 66,000 workers across the state.
The industrial manslaughter offence is in addition to many other penalties the Queensland Government has introduced for safety breaches in the past 12 months. Non-compliant parties can now incur fines of up to $4 million, and the new regulator will be able to issues fines without seeking court approval. RSHQ will also be able to suspend or cancel statutory certificates of competency.
At the end of June, Lynham announced every mine and quarry worker would, effective from September, undergo a free, mandatory lung health check once every five years to prevent exposure to deadly diseases such as respirable crystalline silica (RCS).