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Salary drops by 10% for WHS staff in Qld Mining

logo1The downturn in Australia’s mining boom has taken a chunk out of some mining workers’ pay packets, according to a survey of safety and environmental workers conducted by safesearch.

The survey of over 1,000 Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) and Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) individuals at 130 predominantly ASX 200 companies, compares changes in year-on-year salaries for a range of safety and environmental roles. The results indicate thesalaries in the ‘resources’ states have been heavily impacted by the slowdown in the mining boom.

In Western Australia, project and state-level WHS/HSE Managers have seen their average salary drop by 20.8% from $227,073 last year to $179,836 in a year-on-year comparison.

Queensland was similarly affected by the evolving state of the resource sector, with the same roles seeing a 10.7% drop in salary from $191,714 to $171,154.

The same role in NSW and Victoria saw a slight increase in pay, up 0.9 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.

Julie Honore, Managing Director of safesearch said the decline reflected a retreat from the premium salaries required to secure key talent during the height of the mining boom.

“We’ve seen a decline in the salaries being paid for mining safety manager positions, though it is important to note this was not triggered by a decline in the importance of mine safety,” Ms Honore said.

“The importance of the safety function for all organisations is evident with nearly two-thirds (71%) of survey respondents indicating their company has increased its commitment to health and safety in the past 12 months.

The fall in salaries in certain regions can be attributed to the mining boom coming off the boil, and salaries beginning a retreat to pre-boom levels.”

Across safety positions in other sectors, entry-level roles saw an average increase of 1.8% in their salary packages from last year, while senior level roles in safety saw an increase in salary by 6.5%.

The survey also found that packages for the most senior environmental roles saw a significant decrease in Total Annual Remuneration (TAR) in 2013/14 of 9.4% while sustainability advisers experienced a decrease of 6%.

On the flip side, mid-level and junior environmental roles have fared better. The positions of Environmental Advisor and Environmental Manager saw an increase in salary of 6% and 8.9% respectively.

Ms Honore said uncertainty regarding the Federal Government’s approach to environmental policy has seen a slowdown in investment in senior level and national environmental management roles.

However, continued focus on enforcement by state-based regulators across the country would mean job security of many environmental consultants and corporate environmental managers in the sector.

Key survey findings include:

  •  71% of survey respondents indicated that their organisation has increased their commitment to health and safety in the past 12 months
  • 41% of safety leaders stated that they report directly to the CEO or equivalent, up from 30% in 2011/12 when this question was last asked, reflecting increasing recognition of the importance of safety by organisations.
  • Reflecting these trends, senior safety roles saw an increase in Total Annual Remuneration of 6.4% in spite of the subdued economy.
  • Pressure to do more with less in safety is on the rise. 43% of General Managers of Workplace Health & Safety (WHS) are responsible for more than 50 sites, up 6% on 2012/13, while 53% have more than 6 direct reports, also up 6% from 2012/13.

Mining state safety salaries heavily impacted

  • Salaries in Western Australia were heavily negatively impacted, with project and state-level Workplace Health & Safety (WHS) Managers in Western Australian experiencing a significant average total annual remuneration drop of 20.8% and WHS Managers in Queensland experiencing a drop of 10.7%
  • This compares to NSW and Victoria where the same role saw a slight increase in pay, up 0.9%and 2.9% respectively.
  • The “pay-premium” previously afforded to project workers compared to corporate roles also reversed in 2013/14 with a dramatic 10% decrease in the remuneration of project and state level WHS Managers.
  • These roles now sit 20.2% below their National-level counterparts, which is back in line with the longer-term historical trend.
  • In contrast, National Managers, typically based in corporate head or regional offices enjoyed a generous 17% increase on last year.

Environment and Sustainability priorities shifting


  • Contrasting the elevated importance of safety roles, senior-most environmental packages saw a significant decrease in Total Annual Remuneration in 2013/14 of 9.4%, reflecting the ongoing uncertainty that we have seen in this sector in recent years.
  • 61% of survey respondents similarly indicated that their organisation’s commitment to environment and sustainability had neither increased nor decreased over the past 12 months
  • Participants conveyed an increased focus on enforcement activities by regulatory agencies across the country. Concern from business was the need to remain competitive while responding to increased regulatory attention.
  • Despite these trends, longer term support for the function appears to remain, with entry-level environmental packages increasing 8.9% from 2013.

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