Queensland mine operators will face tougher penalties for failing to keep their workers safe, under new legislation introduced to State Parliament on Thursday.
The legislation provides civil penalties of up to $126,150, under the Mines Legislation (Resources Safety) Amendment Bill, if operators fail to meet their safety and health obligations to mine workers.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr. Anthony Lynham told Parliament that the changes to the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 and the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 give the mines inspectorate more powers to take direct action.
The Bill proposes new powers for the Chief Executive to suspend or cancel individuals’ statutory certificates of competency and site senior executive notices if they fail to meet their safety and health obligations.
This means that those officers would not be able to occupy statutory positions at Queensland mine sites.
Dr Lynham told Parliament that this added to the mines inspectorate’s current powers to audit or prosecute an operator or shut down a mine.
“Every worker has the right to go to work expecting to go home safely to their family at the end of the day and this must hold true for workers in Queensland mines.” Dr. Lynham said.
The Bill also proposes higher levels of competency for the statutory position of ventilation officer at underground coal mines, new requirements for ventilation officers at underground mineral mines, ongoing statutory certificates to maintain high standards of professional competence throughout their careers, upgrades to safety and health at mines with 11 or fewer workers and better protection for contract mine workers.
“Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis is a timely reminder that there is no place for complacency in worker safety and health,” Dr. Lynham said.
“This Bill is needed to ensure mine workers are supported by legislation that is effective and contemporary.”