MINING LAW: The legislation makes mine corporations and senior officers liable for industrial manslaughter if proven negligent about a worker’s death.
MINING LAW: The legislation makes mine corporations and senior officers liable for industrial manslaughter if proven negligent about a worker’s death.

Parliament passes industrial manslaughter laws

MINING corporations are now liable for more than $13.3 million, and senior mine officers face 20 years in prison, if found guilty of industrial manslaughter.

A bill establishing the criminal offence passed Queensland Parliament today.

Industrial relations minister Grace Grace said the penalties "send a strong message to all employers … that negligence causing workplace death will not be tolerated under any circumstances".

"It is only fair and right as it should be," she said.

 

Industrial relations minister Grace Grace. Photo: AAP/Darren England
Industrial relations minister Grace Grace. Photo: AAP/Darren England

The Mineral and Energy Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 was introduced by Natural Resources, Mines and Energy minister Dr Anthony Lynham in February.

It considers a corporation to have committed a criminal offence if found to be negligent about causing a worker to die at work, or be injured at work and later die. The same criteria apply to senior officers.

CFMEU Mackay District President Stephen Smyth last week wrote Dr Lynham saying the legislation was "well overdue".

"In light of the most recent tragic incident at the Grosvenor Mine, it must be passed into law urgently in order to further protect coal mine workers," Mr Smyth said.

He added that "all underlying causes" of the Moranbah mine explosion on May 6 needed to be examined.

Stephen Smyth and Dr Anthony Lynham. Photo: Daryl Wright
Stephen Smyth and Dr Anthony Lynham. Photo: Daryl Wright

The law also seeks to improve the administration of mines by requiring those in statutory safety roles - site senior executives, ventilation officers, and underground or surface mine managers - to be employees of the mine operator rather than contractors.

"This provides these critical officers with confidence that they can raise and report safety issues without fear of reprisal or impact on their employment," Dr Lynham said.

"A safety culture needs to be modelled right from the top, and creating the offence of industrial manslaughter is to ensure senior company officers do all they can to create a safe mine site."

The changes were achieved by amending the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999, the Explosives Act 199 9, the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999, and the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004.

Eight mining men have died since July 2018, and four remain in hospital because of the Grosvenor Mine explosion.


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