Near-misses soar at Qld mines months after safety reset
DANGEROUS near-misses at mines and quarries are soaring just months after an unprecedented crackdown on safety aimed at protecting lives.
Latest data shows 1535 near-miss incidents were reported across Queensland since July, when the sector and State Government agreed to a safety reset in the wake of a string of deaths.
This is on top of the 70 "serious accident" notifications made during the same eight-month period. These are incidents that either cause a death or force someone to be admitted to hospital.
The figures follow one of the state's worst mine safety periods on record, with eight deaths between July 2018 and January 2020.
They suggest the number of near-misses, known as high potential incidents (HPI), are on track to eclipse last year's, which numbered 1935.
The number of serious accidents being reported is comparable to other years, including last financial year when there were 110.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth told The Courier-Mail he was very surprised by the number of serious accidents, which he considered to be "pretty high".
Mr Smyth said he would like to see the investigation outcomes of the HPIs and serious accidents.
An HPI can include equipment failure, theft or other loss of explosives, structural failures and entrapment. It doesn't necessarily result in injury, but must be reported.
The Government introduced industrial manslaughter legislation to Parliament last month aimed at bettering safety.
The industry was also slammed in a recent review of fatal accidents at the state's mines and quarries over the past 20 years, which found a large number of deaths were because a worker was in a preventable situation they were inadequately trained for.
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the number of HPIs being reported showed the mine safety reset was working by creating a strong reporting culture.
"Queensland now has the toughest mine safety and health laws in the world," he said. "Workers and companies should not be discouraged from reporting incidents as they provide important learning opportunities which in turn drives safety culture."
Opposition mines spokesman Dale Last said it was concerning the figures were still at those levels.
"My concern is that while there's been verbal assurances and commitments to improve mine safety standards, this hasn't necessarily flowed through to the coalface, so to speak," he said.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said safety was the shared top priority, from the boardroom to the mine site.
"There is no other industry where workers and management share such a deep day-to-day focus on safety,'' he said.
TIMELINE OF TRAGEDY
Jan 12, 2020: Donald Rabbitt, 33, died at Curragh coalmine near Blackwater when he was crushed by a low-loader while changing a tyre.
Nov 25, 2019: Brad Duxbury, 57 died at Carborough Downs coalmine at Coppabella.
July 7, 2019: Jack Gerdes, 27, became entangled in stairs while working on machinery at Baralaba North coalmine.
June 26, 2019: David Routledge, 55, was fatally injured operating an excavator at the Middlemount coalmine.
Feb 20, 2019: Bradley Hardwick, 48, died at Moranbah North coalmine when a grader collided with a van.
Dec 31, 2018: Allan Houston, 49, died at Saraji coalmine when his bulldozer rolled.
Nov 15, 2018: Connor-Shaye Milne, 21, died at Fairfield quarry at Clermont when he became entangled in a rotating drum on a conveyor belt.
July 29, 2018: Adam Malone, 25, died at Jacks Quarry at Collinsville when his articulated dump truck rolled over.