07/09/2009 - 15:11

CFMEU calls for mine safety committee

07/09/2009 - 15:11

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The mining union has warned that WA's resources sector is not ready for the overhaul of the state's mine safety system and has called on the Barnett government to establish a steering committee.

CFMEU calls for mine safety committee

The mining union has warned that WA's resources sector is not ready for the overhaul of the state's mine safety system and has called on the Barnett government to establish a steering committee.

The CFMEU today made its call following last week's announcement by Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore of changes to the state's safety system.

Mr Moore's announced follows an unusually high number of deaths in the state this calendar year, with six people killed on WA mine sites.

Under the changes, Mr Moore has previously said he had requested $7.95 million in extra funding to assist a new risk and evidence-based safety management scheme in the first six months of operation.

State cabinet has also approved up to an extra 37 full-time staff positions in the same time period, and a further 35 full-time positions in the following 12 months.

Mr Moore had said it was likely to take two years to make the necessary legislative and regulatory changes and establish the inspectorate.

The union said while it welcomed the government's move to improve mine safety, a steering committee was needed to ensure safety was maintained during the transition period.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Union state secretary Gary Wood warned that the introduction of a new system of hazard management based on risk, required a major structural change, which the industry was not ready to take on.

"The union movement will work with the Government on worker's safety, but it cannot be on the basis of a knee jerk Government announcement without industry and union consultation," he said.

"It is imperative that any new model is jointly developed and implemented with a steering group to ensure that safety standards are maintained throughout the transition."

The union has also asked the government to take closer notice of the huge body of work developed to date by the National Mine Safety Framework, which has been developed on a tripartite basis involving unions, industry and the regulator.

"If WA, one of the largest mining states follows a different model it will undermine the work of the National Mine Safety Framework which aims to develop consistency in mining safety," said Mr Wood.

The steering group would also address the other key components of the government's changes, a cost recovery system for employers and the announcement of additional resources.

"No one is going to turn down additional resources - including money and new jobs to help improve mine safety. But it's not as simple as throwing money at the Inspectorate," Mr Wood said.

The union is also concerned that the proposed cost recovery system for employers could lead to employers having control and undue influence over the regulator.

"The Inspectorate, in the interim period, must demonstrate transparency in the workplace and work with elected Occupational Safety and Health representatives who are at the front line of mine safety," said Mr Wood.

"Mine safety needs the Government's full attention, but it cannot tackle safety alone. A steering group with unions and industry to make sure the proposed changes to mine safety reach the workers who face risks on a daily basis, is urgently needed."

 

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