Legislation to improve safety

AMENDMENTS to two safety and health acts, introduced into Queensland Parliament yesterday, were designed to further improve the safety of mine workers, according to minister for Natural Resources and Mines Henry Palaszczuk.
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Staff Reporter

The introduced legislation was to facilitate reforms to the Queensland Mines Inspectorate.

As reported earlier on International Longwall News, amendments to both the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 and the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 change the basis of qualifications for mines inspectors and reshape the power of the department to prosecute for offences.

Palaszczuk said the Natural Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2005 followed a review overseen by a taskforce comprising union representatives, mining company representatives and representatives of the mining inspectors.

"By amending the standard for qualifications for inspectors, we can further align them with broad occupational health and safety skills and with contemporary inspection and enforcement skills used by government inspectors in other jurisdictions," he said.

Currently inspectors must be former mines managers, a rule not consistent with modern health and safety regulatory practices.

"By making these changes, Queensland will have mines inspectors who have a broader range of occupational health and safety skills, which can only benefit the industry," Palaszczuk said.

"The amendments will allow for the separation of investigative functions from the decision on whether to prosecute and will vest the power to prosecute for offences under the Acts in the Chief Executive of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.”

Palaszczuk said both amendments would enable the Inspectorate to fulfil its responsibilities and to build career streams in technical, managerial and investigation/enforcement areas.

"The result will be a stronger and more effective Mines Inspectorate that will continue to employ world's best practice in mining health and safety."

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