Features, Industry News, News

Inside the Quarrying and Mining Safety and Health Conference

The recent Quarrying and Mining Safety and Health Conference provided “an opportunity to share knowledge and challenge our current assumptions”. 

For the Australian quarry sector, and the extractive industry broadly, there is nothing more imperative than ensuring all employees are kept safe while on the job.

The Quarrying and Mining Safety and Health Conference, featuring gold sponsors DWF, Groundwork Plus and Komatsu, is now in its 20th year, was back in Brisbane in June and brought together the best minds from across the quarrying and extractive industries.

The event organisers – Institute of Quarrying Australia (IQA), Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia (CCAA) and Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) – produced a diversified speaking list.

RSHQ’s deputy chief inspector of mines Trevor Brown delivered a special presentation on workplace fatalities followed by a look back at the past two decades of the conference.

The reflective session looked back at the past successes of the conference and how safety had changed during that time.

Caterpillar’s operational risk consultant Jenny Krasny explained how the conference had evolved to encompass mental health and the environment as well as worker health.

“Certainly, over the years, the conversation has evolved from just the physicality of safety to a more holistic view, encompassing what it means to be healthy in body and mind,” Krasny said.

“More than ever before, the industry recognises the importance of leadership creating a culture where speaking up is encouraged, multiple perspectives are considered and where psychosocial safety issues can emerge and be addressed.

“More and more we’re looking beyond physical health and into environmental safety as well.”

CCAA Queensland state director Aaron Johnstone said this conference showed the maturity of the industry to work together on important issues.

“It’s been really successful over the past 20 years in building the level of collaboration in the quarrying industry and between the industry and government,” Johnstone said.

“The industry has become more engaged in those matters and aware of its sustainability, environment and local impacts and how to manage that.”

RSHQ’s chief inspector of mines Hermann Fasching and principal inspector of explosives Hayden Isaac delivered two sessions that provided a resource regulator update and incident reporting.

DWF principal lawyer Matthew Smith discussed the positive duty to prevent sexual harassment which was followed by Josh Bryant’s discussion on the impacts of critical risk management.

Safe-Gauge founder and managing director Luke Dawson opened the conference with a focus on how to keep people from the line of fire in maintenance facilities.

Maranoa Regional Council chief executive officer Edwina Marks shed light on how to keep safety relevant by dealing with skill shortages and engaging safety within the workplace.

IQA chief executive office Kylie Fahey delivered an informative and educational session for the extractive industry before Kransy concluded the conference.

The conference focused on three key themes, including workplace culture, critical management and psycho-social issues.

New View Safety’s Kym Bancroft spoke to Quarry ahead of the conference about the importance of safety in the sector, as well as tips to improve workplace culture.

“Conferences like these are so important for the industry, as they bring many minds together toward achieving the greater goals we have for workplace health, safety and wellbeing,” Bancroft said.

“We all have busy schedules, but taking some time out for our own professional development provides a significant return on investment when we bring back valuable learnings to our organisation.”

For Bancroft, safety has been her calling card in a career that has spanned more than two decades and included stints as a member of the Safe Work Australia and the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities.

She hopes the conference provided businesses in the quarry sector with the tools to positively contribute to the workplace culture.

“I started my safety career working in safety and wellbeing cultural transformation and it has served me very well throughout my entire (professional life),” Bancroft said.

“I get a huge amount of job satisfaction from empowering the frontline and middle management to take an active role in shaping workplace culture.”

A key aspect of workplace culture is staff retention. Data from the REMSMART and AREEA report Resources and energy workforce insights shows turnover is a “significant issue” for the resources and energy sector. The report noted that the industry found success when companies had invested in their overall employee value proposition.

The report, which included data from 115 companies, highlighted “non-wage” issues such as appropriate behaviour, including workplace sexual harassment, as a key focus for companies in the future.

It is for reasons like this that Bancroft sees workplace culture as the next frontier for building productive and positive companies in the quarry sector.

“Workplace culture is so important because it is an implicit substitute for leadership,” she said. “In other words, a strong and coherent organisational culture takes the place of active monitoring and supervision by workplace leaders.

“Resources are then freed up to work on other areas like innovation and business management, rather than supervising and dealing with poor performance. When an organisational culture is managed strategically, it shapes workers’ behaviours in ways that align with company goals and priorities.

“Culture also sets unwritten rules around conduct and expectations for performance. Further, culture directly boosts workforce performance because it sends a signal regarding the value and importance placed on people, which workers interpret and reciprocate in the form of proactivity and proficiency.”

The best place to start with any change, but especially workplace culture, is at the top of a company’s leadership.

“If you want to change organisational culture, the best place to start is with management,” Bancroft said.

“What leaders reward and recognise, what they allow and permit to happen, what they measure, what they punish, and what they prioritise and talk about all contribute to the organisation’s culture.

“Therefore, the style and proficiency of senior leadership will influence organisational culture in the most efficient way.

“A ‘good’ workplace culture has been shown time and again to emphasise human relations – creating a sense of community, a supportive work environment, positivity and civility, collaboration and consultation, and investment in people.”

Dr Tristan Casey represented New View Safety at the conference

The IQA will be holding further health and safety conferences in Townsville in Northern Queensland on July 14 and Newcastle in New South Wales on August 3.

Send this to a friend