Mining executives will face harsher punishments for the deaths of their employees after Queensland parliament passed.
Under the new legislation, Queensland’s mining and quarry executives responsible for the deaths of employees will face up to 20 years in jail if they are found to have been negligent.
Only mine operator employees can hold critical statutory safety roles in coal mines and not the contracted workers.
Queensland has 50,000 mine and quarry workers, and the new legislation aims to deliver a strong message to those in charge throughout the industry.
“This offence sends the clear message to employers and senior officers that the safety and health of their workers is paramount,” Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said.
“In the past two years we’ve had eight workers die, and a gas explosion in an underground coal mine (Anglo American’s Grosvenor) has put five miners in hospital.
“It’s not acceptable.”
According to Lynham, the new laws will push for safer mining activity in Queensland.
“Safety on a mine site is everybody’s responsibility,” he said.
“But 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.
“These new sanctions bring the resources sector and its workers in line with every other workplace across the State — but with higher financial penalties.”
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) responded to the new manslaughter laws by pledging that no “unintended consequences for mine safety” would arise from the new legislation.
“The QRC will work with the minister and the government to ensure there are no unintended consequences for mine safety from the bill that may diminish mine safety and that, together, we can secure the fullest possible compliance with mine safety laws,” it stated.
The Queensland Government has passed a number of industry-related safety reforms, including a maximum penalty of $4 million for offences, powers for regulators to issue fines without going to court and statewide safety reset sessions for mine and quarry workers.