Queensland has passed long-planned amendments to the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act, and the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act, giving the state’s mine inspectors more power, and increasing maximum fines 15-fold.
The amendments will see miners face maximum penalties of close to $4 million for failing to keep workers safe. The Bill also enables inspectors to issue on-the-spot fines to mine operators of up to $130,550 without taking them to court. It also introduces penalties of up to $783,300, or three years’ jail, for company officers who contribute to multiple fatalities, and officer penalties of up to $130,550, or six months’ jail, for the lowest-level offences.
Currently, the maximum fine for corporate contraventions causing multiple deaths is $261,100.
Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the changes reflected the government’s strong position that health and safety non-compliance 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.”
“It also helps to bolster the reputation of the mining industry, which forms a substantial part of Queensland’s economic prosperity. The changes to the legislation will also require more up-skilling and training of on-site safety specialists.”
Lynham said mine sites had 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.”
Other key changes in the Amendment Bill include
- Giving regulators the power to suspend or cancel statutory certificates of competency where safety breaches have occurred
- Requiring mines to have a single safety and health management system covering all workers, including contractors
- Introducing training requirements for mine ventilation officers
The changes will take effect on a day to be fixed by proclamation.