An industry-wide drug sting began yesterday with major iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group assisting WA Police search employees and contractors travelling to FMG’s remote Christmas Creek mine in the Pilbara of Western Australia.
The West Australian reports that around 300 Fortescue workers were searched as they stepped of the plane at the company’s site airport with a drug sniffer dog searching their luggage as part of the operation.
No arrests were made however, “one contractor was issued a summons for possessing drugs without a prescription and another is awaiting further lab tests after returning a “non-negative” result,” The West Australian reports.
Fortescue is the first of several resource sector employers in Western Australia to be actively supporting the wider police operation
Fortescue’s chief executive, Nev Power, said he was 100 per cent behind the joint operation.
“Illegal drugs do not belong in the mining industry, just as they do not belong in the community, and anyone who uses illegal drugs on a Fortescue site is putting the safety of themselves and their mates at risk, which is unacceptable.”
“We are working with WA Police to prevent access so we have a significant deterrence for people wanting to bring drugs on site.
“It is a growing issue and we are getting intelligence about attempts to infiltrate drugs into our mine sites.
Mr Power said that for too long the industry had “turned a blind eye” to drug problems.
“It’s time we as an industry and society stood up against drugs,” he said, “There is no room for it on our sites.”
Resources employer group, the AMMA, said they strongly supported the coordinated efforts of the Police and resource industry employers.
“AMMA commends Fortescue Metals Group and CEO Nev Power for working closely with state police in their wide ranging anti-drug operation, consistent with the resource industry’s zero tolerance approach to illicit drugs on its work sites,” says AMMA chief executive Steve Knott.
“The nature of resource industry work, often involving heavy machinery, gas plants, shipping movements and hot molten metal, highlights why a zero tolerance approach is the only approach to effectively manage and minimise safety risks to employees associated with drugs.
“It is a testament to the seriousness in which the WA Police Force takes this matter that the state has dedicated considerable resources in remote areas to tackle this issue.”
“It has been concerning that some third parties quite removed from the workplace, such as union bosses and members of IR tribunals, have sought to water down stringent drug and alcohol management policies implemented by employers on remote worksites,” Mr Knott says.
“This often includes those with little resource sector experience and from the comfort of air conditioned CBD offices, seeking to substitute their views on remote site drug management for those of experienced safety professionals.
“This could very well have serious consequences for somebody working in a remote mining environment, where anyone affected by drugs or alcohol not only puts their life at risk, but also the lives of their colleagues.
“Today’s police operation reinforces employer concerns regarding the dangers of drug use on remote resource worksites, and should cause a re-think by those who have attempted to counteract the strict anti-drug requirements insisted on by the industry.”