THERE are likely to be major changes to the regulation of safety and health in the mining industry in Western Australia by April.
This is to give effect to the reports commissioned by and presented to the State Government by Robert Laing earlier this year.
The Laing reports, which separately reviewed the Mines, Safety and Inspection Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act made a number of recommendations that will specifically affect the mining industry. Some of these recommendations have been provisionally
approved by Cabinet.
What is certain is the prominent role WorkSafe will assume in setting safety and health policy directions for all workplaces including mining.
The mining industry will have, in addition to industry specific requirement, the same obligations as other industries subject to the OSH Act.
The Mines Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board will not be abolished but will become a standing committee within WorkSafe.
This may lead to increased union involvement in the regulation of safety and health in the mining industry.
Safety alerts will be introduced to the mining industry.
These are notices issued by a safety representative such as an employee alleging a breach of the MSI Act or an increased risk of injury.
While a safety alert does not stop work it serves to highlight a perceived risk to all parties concerned and can only be removed by the representative or by an inspector.
Penalties for corporations for safety violations are proposed to increase from $200,000 to $500,000 for a first offence and $625,000 for subsequent offences.
Other proposed sentencing options are publishing outcomes, ordering agreements enforceable by courts to be entered into between mining companies and government agencies, remedial work and community service orders.
These proposed changes reflect trends across Australia.
Mine owners, operators and employers may have to revisit policies and practices in relation to safety and health.
These changes could increase compliance costs and initially create uncertainty regarding safety and health obligations in the mining industry.
Rod Collinson - 9429 7637
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