Safety personnel to obtain greater power in proposed law

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The New South Wales Resources Regulator is seeking public comment for recommendations to the Work Health and Safety Act for mine and petroleum sites.

According to the regulator, some of the proposed recommendations are complex and may need legislative reform.

The Work Health and Safety (Mines and Petroleum Sites) Act 2013 was given an independent statutory review in 2020 followed by a public consultation period, however the regulator has now identified that 15 of the recommendations will require further review.

“It has been identified that further consultation with key industry stakeholders in relation to these 15 recommendations is necessary,” the regulator stated.

They include granting mine safety and health representatives more participation in investigations, giving them similar roles to industry safety and health representatives.

A separate recommendation also aims to ensure safety and health representatives for coal mines do not unreasonably or intentionally delay or disrupt work on site.

Revisions to “casual” investigations have also been recommended, suggesting that the “casual investigation policy” should be formalised to improve safety.

It is also recommended that the regulator references the 2020 Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management in its guidance material, while suggesting to use the standard in legislative amendments to tailings management.

Another recommendation suggest that details for underground and coal mine escape and rescue plans should be displayed at all times with key features and exits displayed.

The regulator has delivered a public consultation period, to last between April 19 and May 17, for consideration of the amendments.

In response to last year’s independent statutory review, the regulator has itself proposed to amend explosion-protection provisions in the act, enforcing compliance for electrical plants to meet the requirements of a valid certificate or departmental approval.

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