The Queensland Government has backed maximum penalties of $4 million for mining companies that don’t keep workers safe. In Parliament yesterday, it was also announced that mines inspectors will be able to hit mine operators with automatic fines up to $130,550 – without having to take them to court.
This means workers in Queensland mines will be more protected and it shows mine operators that the government is serious when it comes to not tolerating non-compliance with health and safety obligations. Taking care of miners is imperative.
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said it 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.
“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.
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
- 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.