Resources Safety and Health Queensland has issued compliance directives to mine operators following a series of serious incidents at Central Queensland coal mines involving mobile equipment operating on coal stockpiles.
The independent regulator’s directives require operators to take action to ensure risk to workers is managed to an acceptable level.
The directives follow three recently reported incidents in Queensland where mobile equipment being operated by workers have sunk into voids that have developed in stockpiles.
The first incident occurred late last year and resulted in RSHQ issuing a safety bulletin on 16 December 2022 that made recommendations to reduce risks arising from these operations. The more recent incidents remain under investigation.
Resources Minister Scott Stewart welcomed RSHQ putting the industry on notice about hazards involved with operating mobile equipment on stockpiles.
“The health and safety of all workers is paramount for a Palaszczuk Labor Government,” Mr Stewart said.
“Regardless of the industry every worker deserves to come home safely from their job.”
Minister Stewart also welcomed the regulator’s on-going focus to ensure operations involving heavy mobile equipment are conducted in a way that does not expose workers to an unacceptable level of risk, including issuing a safety bulletin.
RSHQ CEO Mark Stone said the action taken by the mines inspectorate was consistent with the regulator’s compliance and enforcement policy, combining education and corrective action.
“The compliance directives issued by the inspectorate require mine sites to take action within a specified timeframe,” Mr Stone said.
“I expect for many operations, responding to the directive will validate that their safety systems are good.
“For some, the directive will help expose deficiencies and lead to improved risk control and learnings.”
In recent months both Queensland and New South Wales mining regulators have published safety bulletins alerting industry to incidents and hazards arising from the operation of dozers and heavy mobile equipment.
Recommendations have been made to site senior executives that they take steps to ensure their systems are effective.