Mines get legal help on environment, safety

CONSULTANCY Environment Essentials has expanded its online information service to help Australian companies better understand the legal mining obligations for environment and safety.

Staff Reporter

The subscription-based service provides a plain english statement of legal obligations, for the first time incorporating the safety requirements that apply to mining in Queensland and Western Australia.

Consultant for Queensland and the Northern Territory Mary-Jane Crosbie said the Environment Essentials website was a “one-stop shop” where clients could check their obligations under safety and environment legislation, secure in the knowledge that the information available to them was up-to-date.

Legal obligations are indexed and listed by category, to assist clients without specialised knowledge of environment and safety to find the laws relating to their business without wading through masses of extra information. This can free up the time of specialist occupational health and safety staff and allow them to be involved in more productive activities for the company.

The website service has recently been customised so that businesses operating on mine sites can easily identify obligations applying to them, including responsibilities under the Queensland Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act, the Queensland Coal Mining Safety and Health Act, and the Western Australian Mines Safety and Inspection Act.

The consultancy said this would be a boon to companies with some work on mine sites and some off-site. Inclusion of mining legislation gives a comprehensive summary of the obligations that apply.

Most of the company’s clients would be aware that specific mining safety legislation applies to them, but as Crosbie said; “It’s still a bit of a juggle to work out what they have to do - you would have to do a lot of reading.”

Companies wishing to use the Environment Essentials online information service must subscribe, with different rates applying for various levels of service.

“This is a good tool to quickly and easily access the environment and safety obligations that apply to you,” Crosbie said. “It frees up safety officers to concentrate on more critical issues and strategic risk management rather than just working through the legislation.

“In smaller businesses the safety officer is often someone with four or five roles – they may be the human resources, quality, safety and environment representative - and they are expected to keep up to date with legislation in all of those areas.”

International standards for management systems (both safety and environment) require relevant managers in the organisation be aware of applicable legal obligations.

Environment Essentials said its online information service has helped many companies address this element of the standards by ensuring that up to date information is available throughout the organisation.

“You can look up a category and find relevant information rather than going through the pages of multiple Acts and Regulations. Everyone who has it loves it,” Crosbie said.