Western Australia Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore
State Moves Ahead With Reform To Improve Mining Safety
Victor P Taffa
Safety in Western Australia’s resources sector took a significant step forward today with the publication of the Mines Safety and Inspection Levy Regulations 2010 in the Government Gazette.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said the new regulations were part of a reform process he had begun in November 2009 and reflected the importance the State Government placed on worker safety.
“The Government’s Reform and Development at Resources Safety (RADARS) strategy is an initiative which addresses how the Department of Mines and Petroleum’s (DMP) resources safety division will work with the resources industry.” Mr. Moore said.
“It is designed to reduce serious accidents and save lives across the three sectors it administers – mining, petroleum and dangerous goods.”
The Minister said it was vital employees, businesses and Government worked together to effect the necessary cultural change which would reduce workplace injuries and deaths.
“Consultation, communication and participation are paramount to making effective and permanent change.” the Minister said.
“Under the RADARS strategy, the emphasis will be on expanding the role of risk management rather than relying on detailed prescription for resources safety regulation.”
“The risk-based approach puts the onus on operators to demonstrate they understand the hazards and risks of their workplaces and have implemented the necessary control measures.” Mr. Moore said.
“This will help ensure the specific safety needs of individual operations are addressed, rather than trying to use a one size fits all approach.”
Mr. Moore said the mining sector would be the priority in the phased implementation of RADARS.
“There have been a number of reviews into mining safety in WA, including the Kenner Review in 2009, which have noted issues such as the State’s low inspector to employee ratio.” the Minister said.
“A Ministerial Advisory Panel including industry and unions, as well as key departmental staff, will provide advice as the new regime is implemented.”
“WA’s mining industry is Australia’s biggest mining sector and one of the largest in the world.”
“It is vital the mining inspectorate reflects the size and complexity of WA’s mining industry and as such the Government has approved the creation of up to 26 additional mines inspector positions.” Mr. Moore said.
In order to fund these positions and adequately resource them with support staff positions and other initiatives within the DMP, the Government has introduced the Mines Safety Levy.
The Minister said despite some criticism from industry, the levy was important to ensure the Government had the resources to work with industry to lift safety standards.
“The growth in WA’s mining industry has stretched DMP’s resources to the limit.” the Minister said.
“It is the State’s position that enhanced safety services should be funded by the mining industry as the direct recipient of those services.”
The new mines safety levy regulations sets out details such as how the levy will be charged to industry, which is liable to pay, how it will be assessed and the payment process.
The mines safety levy will raise about $8 Million in 2009-10 and about $18 Million in 2010-11 for safety regulation of the mining industry.
It is expected that about $35 Million will be raised in 2011-12 for safety regulation across all the industry sectors including onshore oil and gas, pipelines, mining exploration, dangerous goods, major hazard facilities, explosives and counter-terrorism measures.