Parliament today has backed maximum penalties close to $4 million for mining companies that fail to keep their workers safe. In addition to this, mines inspectors will also be able to enforce mine operators with tough new fines of up to $130,550 without taking them to court.
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham told Parliament today that the changes reflected the Queensland Government’s strong position that non-compliance with safety and health obligations would not be tolerated.
“This helps to protect those who work, day after day managing the unique hazards and risks of mining, and the social fabric of families and communities around our mining workers,” Dr Lynham said, “it also helps to bolster the reputation of the mining industry which forms a substantial part of Queensland’s economic prosperity.”
Under changes to the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 and the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999, the state’s mines inspectors will now have more powers to take direct action on health and safety issues. The changes will also require more upskilling and training of onsite safety specialists.
Dr Lynham further said that the Bill is another important step towards ensuring all workers in Queensland get home safely to their families at the end of every working day.
“Mine sites have transformed significantly in the last 20 years, with more automation and technology and more specialist contractors from numerous companies on site at any one time to manage these systems.”
“Queensland’s mining safety legislation is considered among the best in the world, but to uphold our track record, we need to ensure it remains contemporary and reflects the risks of a modern mine site,” he said.
Key changes to Queensland’s mine safety laws include:
- New powers for inspectors to impose out of court penalties of up to $130,550 for serious safety and health breaches.
- Increased maximum penalties for court-based prosecutions of up to $3.9 million for corporations and $783,300 or three years’ imprisonment for individuals for breaches of safety and health obligations.
- Powers to suspend or cancel statutory certificates of competency if holders fail to meet their obligations.
- Improved integration of contractor safety and health management in a single safety and health management system at a mine.
- Training requirements for mine ventilation officers.
- A requirement for small opal or gem mines with five or more workers to have safety and health management systems.
- Adding health surveillance of current and former mining workers to the objects of the mining safety and health acts to reflect the importance of identifying occupational health issues early.