Mine contract supervisors under fire

THE coal miners' union has said contract supervisors with a focus on meeting production schedules rather than safety performance have contributed to a rise in high potential incidences at Anglo Coal's Moranbah North mine.
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Staff Reporter

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's Tim Whyte said recent safety breaches at Anglo Coal’s Moranbah North mine and Aquila Colliery highlight that the practice of employing contract supervisors must end.

Moranbah North operates one section of the longwall mine under a contractual workforce and another under a permanent workforce. Whyte told International Longwall News that many of the recent high potential incidents at the mine, including roof falls and electrical cable faults, had happened in the areas under contract supervision.

Moranbah North has experiened ongoing strata control issues over its history of mining the difficult north Goonyella Middle seam.

Whyte said the Mining Act should be reviewed to ensure supervisory and management positions were only held by workers employed by the mine owner.

“Mine owners are now contracting out their whole management teams, and the mines are losing ownership,” Whyte said.

“Their priorities are more put on the productive side, not ensuring that standards are met and safety is upheld.

“At Moranbah North, the parts of the mine that are contractually let out are where a lot of the recent problems are stemming from.”

Whyte said the CFMEU had been pushing for mining companies to take full responsibility for mine safety standards at their operations and to have transparent communication with contract employees.

“Now mines are abrogating their responsibilities to these contracting companies and not really taking control of what’s happening in their own mine.

“Unfortunately it goes right back down from people who are in management roles through to the workforce – the pressure is being put on them to push, push, push – whereas we should be getting the standards and the safety right and production will flow just as quickly.”

The most recent incidents at Aquila and Moranbah North have involved faulty electrical cables while last year there were seven high potential incidents at Moranbah North in a four-month period, sparking initial concerns that adequate safety measures were being overlooked.

Whyte said Moranbah North was now heavily involving its entire contract workforce in addressing potential hazards and was ensuring recent safety lapses are being rectified.

Anglo Coal was unavailable for media comment.

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