Drugs a Kronic problem for mine owners

THE detection of synthetic drug Kronic on minesites has prompted New South Wales mine safety operations director Rob Regan to remind coal mining companies that state legislation makes it their responsibility to ensure drugs are not affecting any employee’s performance in the workplace.
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Lou Caruana

The synthetic cannabinoid was detected in as many as one in 10 Western Australian miners last year, prompting NSW and Queensland mines to also begin testing workers, according to NSW Trade and Investment Journal Mine Safety Update.

“Our mining-specific legislation requires the operator to provide a health and safety management system that identifies and controls risks to the operation,” Regan reportedly said.

“A good operator will recognise that alcohol and other drugs (AOD) may present a risk and have policy and procedures as part of fitness for work, to control these risks.

“However, those policies and procedures must have been developed through and with the consultation of the workforce.”

The Coal Mine Health and Safety Regulation 2006 clause 148 specifies the coal operation must have a fitness for work program that includes measures to eliminate or control risks from the consumption of drugs at the coal operation.

The Mine Health and Safety Regulation 2007 makes a similar provision at clauses 82 and 83 that a person must not take drugs into a mine without the mine operator’s authority.

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 directs the requirements of workers and others at the workplace.

They must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and take reasonable care that their acts or omissions do not adversely affect the health and safety of others.

They must also comply with any reasonable instruction by the person conducting a business or undertaking and the worker must cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure of the PCBU.

Kronic is a mix of herbs and chemicals, containing synthetic cannabinoids which mimic the effect of cannabis, giving users feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

Health experts have warned that Kronic use can also result in paranoia, nausea, high blood pressure and hallucinations.

Kronic, which is being sold in some states of Australia, contains a leafy green material adulterated with one or more compounds that convey similar pharmacological properties as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive constituent of marijuana.

“AOD policy should recognise that both legal and illegal substances may have an impact on the competency of people who work at a mine,” Regan reportedly said.

“Good procedures establish behaviours of people at the mine so they recognise that they may not be fit for duty and inform their supervisor.

“This happens through education and positive reinforcement.

“Kronic is just another AOD that mine operators should give information about to their workforce.”

Regan said the second layer of control was to train others and in particular supervisors, in how to detect whether a person may not be fit for duty.