Qld safety record slammed in Brady report

MOST of the 47 mining deaths over the past 20 years in the Queensland mining industry were usually a combination of failure of controls, a lack of training, and absent or inadequate supervision, according to a 321 report by forensic structure engineer Dr Sean Brady.
Qld safety record slammed in Brady report Qld safety record slammed in Brady report Qld safety record slammed in Brady report Qld safety record slammed in Brady report Qld safety record slammed in Brady report

The report represents a detailed analysis of the fatalities, serious accidents and high potential incidents that have occurred in the Queensland mining and quarrying industries over the past 20 years. 

"The six fatalities that occurred between July 2018 and July 2019 have been described by some in the industry as evidence of an industry in crisis, but a bleaker assessment is that this is an industry resetting itself to its normal fatality rate," the report states.

The report was critical of Queensland's mining industry's safety record and warned that 12 Queensland miners would die every five years if the industry did not break the cycle.

"Unless it makes significant changes to how it operates, the rate of fatalities is likely to continue at current levels," it stated.

"Mining is a hazardous industry, but that doesn't mean that workers and their families must continue to suffer the consequences of these hazards.

 "No single change to the mining industry will reduce this rate, what is instead required is a change in approach to how the industry identifies and controls hazards, as well as how it recognises and addressed them when these controls are eroding or ineffective."

Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane said the QRC welcomed the release of the Brady Review into Mining and Quarrying fatalities and two University of Queensland expert legal assessments of coal mining and mining and quarrying legislation.

"These reports represent a wealth of information that the resources industry can use to further enhance safety," he said.

"Last July QRC committed to working with [Queensland mining] minister [Dr Anthony] Lynham on the outcomes of these reviews. We restate that commitment now and congratulate the Minister on initiating these important reviews."

The QRC endorses all the Brady Review recommendations. 

"This is a very sobering assessment that the industry takes seriously," Macfarlane said.

"QRC commits to redoubling efforts to do everything possible to maintain vigilance and remain safe.

"QRC fully accepts that while the mining industry has inherent risk we must always improve the focus on the practical actions that can keep our workers safe.

"QRC will now undertake further detailed review of Dr Brady's findings as a matter of urgency.

"We also acknowledge the imminent passage of the Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) Bill, which arose out of the Coalmine Worker Pneumoconiosis inquiry."

Macfarlane said QRC looked forward to working with the Lynham, the resources safety inspectorate and worker representatives during the creation of RSHQ.

It is also coordinating work with experts and companies to identify practical programs to implement safety principles identified in Brady's report.

"The Queensland resources industry is determined to remain a leader in safety, and the industry commits to using the findings of Dr Brady's report to identify new ways to improve safety for all workers," Macfarlane said.

"QRC also supports in principle the recommendations of the UQ Legislative Effectiveness Review and looks forward to a full analysis of the respective reviews by the Ministerial Advisory Committees."

Meanwhile, Queensland's proposed industrial manslaughter laws for the mining sector have received support from the legal fraternity.

Maurice Blackburn state managing principal Rod Hodgson said the Queensland mining sector had repeatedly shown itself to be incapable prioritising worker safety.

"For too long mining sector bosses have argued they ought not be subject to the same laws as every other Queensland business," he said.

"This has resulted in the tragic loss of six lives in Queensland mines over the past 18 months.

"Unless board members and executive officers know they can be prosecuted then an insufficient deterrence exists - proper investigation and prosecution of board members and executives is key to ensuring a robust safety culture in the mining sector."

Hodgson said under the government's proposed laws, the message was clear that if a mine worker died as a result of negligence severe financial penalties and significant jail time could follow.

"Of particular significance is the new offence of ‘negligence causing death' which strengthens regulation and compliance around workplace health and safety," he said.

"Under the new laws tough new maximum penalties of 20 years imprisonment for individuals and maximum fines of $13 million for corporate offenders now also apply.

"Through this legislation the state government has sent a strong message that safety must always be the number one priority on any worksite."