Workplace related deaths at Queensland mines are increasing but the number of inspections has fallen by at least 20 percent in the past three years, new data shows.
State Mines Minister Anthony Lynham has released statistics, showing there were 540 fewer official inspections at mine and quarries in 2018-19 financial year compared to the 2015-16 period’s total of 1781.
There were also 1310 notices about substandard conditions and other issues compared to the previous year’s 1306 notices.
The new data came after six people died in Queensland mines and quarries in the past 12 months. Four of the deaths happened at coal mines.
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Investigation into decades of workplace deaths
Authorities are now investigating the circumstances leading to the death of all Australian mine workers in the past 20 years. The lessons are hoped to be used to help the resources sector improve workplace safety practices, and measure the effectiveness of mining and health laws across the Sunshine State.
Lynham explained the number of inspections decreased because authorities are focusing more on the auditing process, which is becoming more detailed and taking longer to complete.
“[There has been] prioritisation of workload as a result of fatal accidents investigation and increased focus on coal worker’s pneumoconiosis,” lung diseases that can be caused by inhaling dust the minister said, according to the Australian Associated Press. “Let me emphasise, safety is an issue for everyone on every work site and across the industry.”
Opposition wants an inquiry
The state opposition is not satisfied with this explanation and continues to call for a parliamentary inquiry into what went wrong in the industry.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington blames State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government for risking lives by reducing the number of mine inspections.