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Parliament proposes new mining safety regulator

06 September 2019
On 4 September 2019, Queensland's Minister for Natural Resources introduced a Bill to Parliament to establish an independent regulator for the State's mining sector.
'Resources Safety and Health Queensland' (RSHQ) aims to better protect the safety of the 70,000+ workers in the resources sector. Minister Lynham identified the benefit of separating the role of worker protection from the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy who also facilitate mining and exploration projects and help grow the resources sector as a whole. In introducing the Bill, the Minister referred to the rise of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (black lung) and the death of six workers in Queensland mines. The body hopes to improve safety monitoring in the sector while improving the transparency and administrative independence of its regulator. 

The proposed statutory company will be headed by a CEO who will report directly to the Minister instead of through a department. The Bill also seeks to establish an independent Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health (replacing the Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health) whose roles are to provide advice to the Minister and to review and report on RSHQ's operations. Serious offences will be pursued by the recently established Work Health and Queensland Prosecutor – aimed at promoting consistency and efficiency and which may result in an uplift in front-foot regulatory activity. We think the context of these changes (with six recent serious incidents) likely forecasts an increased and more robust proclivity to prosecute in respect of mine safety incidents.
 

Click here to see the bill.

If you require further information or have any queries in relation to this legal alert, please contact Matthew Smith or Andrew Ross.

 

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the contribution of Lachlan Thomas to this article.

 

Further Reading