Mine safety must be built on accountability – not another Inquiry

Published: 10 Oct 2019

Queensland mine operators must take responsibility for safety in their workplaces, rather than shifting the focus onto another time-consuming Inquiry.
 
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland District President Stephen Smyth today said the problems with safety in the Queensland mining sector were well-documented, and it was time for action.
 
“Mine owners and operators must take full responsibility for safety practices at their mines, and not push responsibility down the supply chain to contractors and outsourcers.
 
“The statistics, however, show that mining companies have failed to live up to their own words when it comes to providing a safe work environment.
 
“Too many workers are being injured, and too many are being killed.  We don’t need more navel-gazing, we need to see some accountability.”
 
Mr Smyth said a survey of 1,000 Queensland coal miners identified declining job security in coal mining a major mine safety risk factor in the industry.
 
“Nearly nine in ten coal miners said that casualisation of jobs at their work site has affected safety,” Mr Smyth said.
 
“Coal mining has experienced a widespread move away from permanent, direct employment by operators to casual jobs supplied by labour hire contractors over the past five to ten years
 
“Permanent employees are now a minority at many Queensland coal mines.
 
About four in ten survey respondents also said they feared reprisals if they spoke up about safety, increasing to six in ten for casual mineworkers.
 
“That’s why it is essential that all coal workers must be empowered to stand up and speak out on safety matters without the fear of reprisal.
 
Mr Smyth said every mine worker deserves to be safe.
 
“The current safety reset process involving the Queensland Government, mine operators and unions is a positive step.
 
“We have disappointed by the attitude of some mine operators who are still refusing to take the safety crisis in Queensland mining seriously.
 
“We owe to the workers who have lost their lives, or who have been seriously injured, to genuine, tangible safety improvements in our industry.”