Mining Union will defend coal miners’ safety laws

CFMEU Mining & Energy

The Mining and Energy Union will use this weekend’s ALP conference to defend hard-won safety protections for coal miners.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth said all unions were motivated to protect workers’ safety. However a push by some unions to replace special coal mine safety legislation with general health and safety provisions was misguided and would downgrade hard-fought protections.

“The hard truth of the coal mining industry is that safety improvements are written in the blood of workers,” said Mr Smyth.

“Our union won’t sit by and watch them be wound back. The Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 and the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 were passed after a significant re-write of mining safety legislation after 11 men were killed in an underground mining explosion at Moura.

“An important development in the 1990s was the introduction of statutory industry safety roles with special powers and responsibilities that do not exist in any other industries.

“These positions require specific industry qualifications and expertise and hold powers and functions separate and additional to provisions in the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011.

“To see unions who are not principal unions in coal mining attempt to unwind key provisions of coal mine safety legislation, including the role of industry safety inspectors, and replace it with general workplace health and safety laws is disappointing.

“We will be calling on Queensland Labor to continue its long-term support for hard-won coal mine safety laws.”

Coal mine site safety representatives from across Queensland have been meeting in Yeppoon this week to discuss the major safety issues in the industry including fatigue, heavy vehicle safety, gas management and employment practices.

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