An independent body is to be set up to protect the safety and health of Queensland’s 70,000-plus resources sector workers.
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham today introduced legislation to Parliament establish an independent safety and health regulator statutory body, Resources Safety and Health Queensland.
The new body, funded by a levy on resources companies, will include already-independent mining inspectors as well as excising safety and health functions currently within the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.
“This separates the job of protecting the workers from the job of growing and facilitating mining and exploration projects and the resources sector as a whole,” Dr Lynham said.
“This is yet another in the suite of reforms the Palaszczuk Government has put in place over the past five years to protect the safety and health of our resources sector workers.”
Under the new legislation, RSHQ will:
- include Queensland’s mines, explosives and petroleum and gas inspectors, the Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station at Redbank near Ipswich and the coal mine workers’ health scheme that covers mine dust lung diseases, including black lung.
- will report directly to the Minister instead of through a department.
- be subject to monitor and review by a separate, independent commissioner for mining and quarrying, petroleum and gas, and explosives.
The establishment of the independent body flows from the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee into coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.
The committee made 68 recommendations, all of which the government supported or supported in principle.
The bill introduced today represents the third major package of reforms to mining safety and health in the past three years.
Last year, the regulator was given powers to issue fines without going to court for mine safety and health breaches, and maximum court penalties were increased to $4 million.
The government has also introduced sweeping changes to better prevent and detect black lung disease among coal workers, and provide a safety net for affected workers.
The bill’s introduction comes just weeks after a commitment by all mining and quarrying companies to improve safety culture, including safety reset sessions on all worksites statewide. The commitment follows the deaths of six mine and quarry workers over the past 12 months.
Dr Lynham said the re-identification of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and the six mining and quarrying fatalities highlighted the importance of a transparent, independent safety and health body.
“Queenslanders want to see a strong regulator, fully independent and at arms-length from the industry it is regulating,” he said.
“That’s what the new RSHQ will deliver, with a sole focus on the safety and health of our resources industries’ workers.”
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
The Honourable Dr Anthony Lynham