Watch out for fatigue

QUEENSLAND police will be required to report on all mining-related road crashes through a State Government effort to reduce fatigue fatalities on Central Queensland roads.

The three-pronged approach will enable the state-controlled Mines Inspectorate to investigate the effectiveness of mines’ health and safety management systems under a new Memorandum of Understanding between various government agencies.

Mining unions called for an industry standard for fatigue management to be introduced across the state, but the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation said a Guidance Note was more practical for implementation.

It would form the basis of sweeping legislative changes to be introduced next year, a spokesman said.

“With the national harmonisation of mining safety and health legislation, the Mines Inspectorate recommended to the committee that a Guidance Note was more appropriate than producing a Recognised Standard because there will be no legal recognition of Recognised Standards in the new nationally harmonised mining legislation commencing in 2012,” a DEEDI spokesman said. “The Guidance Note will eventually form the basis of a new National Code of Practice on Fatigue under discussion that would take into account fatigue guidance practices in Queensland and the other mining states.

“The only reason the Guidance Note has not yet been released is the failure by the CFMEU to reach consensus with the rest of the tripartite committee.”

The spokesman said extensive consultation with industry stakeholders, including the Queensland Resource Council, AMWU and AWU, formed the agreed Guidance Note.

But BMA, the Bowen Basin arm of international mining conglomerate BHP Billiton, yesterday said it had already implemented a Fatigue Standard at its Queensland mine sites, as well as a Journey Management Plan which was formed in collaboration with its more than 4000-member workforce.

“BHP Billiton recognises fatigue as a significant issue for the safety and wellbeing of our people and continues to work closely with regulators, our workforce and their representatives, and our industry to identify the causes of fatigue and improve management,” a company spokeswoman said.

“BMA supports the Road Accident Action Group and was instrumental in setting up the Mining Industry Road Safety Alliance, aimed at improving awareness of road safety in the Bowen Basin.”

The spokeswoman said other measures were also in place “across the business” such as ensuring workers had access to “pre and post-shift sleeping facilities and crew-based fatigue management plans”.

But despite site-based measures independently developed and implemented by companies, it was understood DEEDI’s National Code of Practice on Fatigue would be mandated by law and require all mine sites to execute rigorous hazard management strategies.

“Under Queensland law, all mines and quarries are required to address fatigue through their safety and health management system which will include a hazard management plan for fatigue,” the spokesman said.

“The Queensland Government recognises that fatigue is a serious issue in the mining industry.”

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