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Queensland Mining Declares A Safety Reset

Queensland Mining Declares A Safety Reset

over 1 year ago By Emily Harris
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As Safe Work Month wraps up for another year, today D&B are focusing on the health and safety measures within the mining industry; an industry that has had some of the highest fatalities of any industry, according to Safe Work Australia.

Mining fatalities particularly came under fire last year, when five mining workers across Australia had died by July; nearly double the fatality rates from 2017 and ahead of the fatalities reported at the same time last year. These events prompted the Queensland union to declare a ‘safety crisis’ –as the majority of accidents had occurred throughout Queensland mines. Later that month the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, the Hon Dr Anthony Lynham MP convened with key stakeholders to forge an action plan, to ‘reset’ the safety and health culture in Queensland’s mining industries.

A number of safety reset sessions were then scheduled across Queensland quarry and mine sites throughout July and August 2019 and had more than 52,000 workers attending; which represents more than 95% of Queensland’s mine and quarry workforce. During this time, the Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) conducted a safety reset survey, released alongside the information sessions, to get a better idea of safety concerns and inform further actions for the industry. Some of the key issues raised within the survey were:


Many respondents expressed the importance strong leadership has on safety culture and the disconnection that can sometimes arise between management and the on-the-ground safety realities faced by the workforce. Suggestions were made to create an open forum for leaders to listen to worker's concerns and to do so without reprisal and senior management having more understanding that the high pressure workers are under, or perceive being under, are increasing the likelihood of mistakes.

Increase of a ‘Casual’ Workforce

Many workers have become concerned about the increasing ‘casualisation’ of the industry. Many believe that employing people on a contract basis can impact the level of detailed training they receive and understanding they gain on each individual mine set up. Other worried that contract workers would feel less comfortable raising concerns and voicing opinions for fear of risking continued employment. Which has highlighted the importance of providing an avenue for workers to move from casual to full-time positions.

Improved Training

Respondents urged the need to focus on quality and frequent training as more inexperienced individuals are entering the industry in higher numbers than before, while many experienced individuals are now leaving the industry and taking their specialised knowledge with them. This means that a lot of new workers are being trained by people who are also reasonably inexperienced. Furthermore, due to the increased demand of projects and workers with a medium to high level of experience mines are also wanting to promote workers, before another mine offers them a better position.

To combat this, respondents have urged for more frequent and higher quality training to be accessible to all workers, at all points of their career- not just when they start at a new site. They also advised that Site Senior Executives (SSE) and mining managers have a level of operational experience in order to assess the practicality and suitability of controls in the Safety and Health Management System (SHMS).

Process Improvement

Another issue identified is that the processes and procedures, particularly around emergency or lifesaving Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) could be better defined, simplified and standardised, to ensure all workers knew the ‘correct’ steps to take in an emergency.

To combat this, respondents have suggested that the industry-wide standards like the isolation priority rules and barricading fatal risk controls are reviewed across all mine sites. This is especially important as Safety and Health Management systems vary across sites, making it very important to create and set industry best practice.

DNRME and the key stakeholders within the Queensland mining industry are now working to action the issues raised within the survey and protect QLD workers. Safety has become especially relevant over the last year, with the QLD Resources Industry significantly supporting the sate economy. New data has been released this week which indicates that an extra 50,000 jobs have been created by the resource sector in the past financial year.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) which released the information claimed that this data shows one in every five dollars in the state economy and one in six jobs are due to the QLD mining and gas industry; demonstrating the important role the industry will play in the state’s post COVID-19 recovery.

Additionally, the federal government are also allocating $4 billion towards a new JobMaker hiring credit which will support about 450,000 positions for young people from the 2020-21 financial year to the 2022-23 financial year.

However, while the mining industry is under increasing pressure to support both the state and national economy, experts argue that safety moving forward will not be compromised and that it will be a focus for QLD mining sites moving forward, especially with the surge of new workers starting over the next few years.




Geotechnical Superintendent

Location: Regional Queensland

Contract Type: Permanent

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Underground Geotechnical Engineer

Location: Regional Queensland

Contract Type: Permanent

Job Description: An exciting opportunity to work for a leading Base Metal Producer and learn from a team of professional engineers on a world-class, underground zinc operation.

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Mine Planning Engineer

Location: Regional Queensland

Contract Type: Contract

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To find out more about any of the roles listed above, or for a more general chat to discuss the upcoming opportunities within mining, engineering or the Health and Safety space, you can contact Jackson and the team here: