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“Culture of fear” called out in mine safety review following worker deaths

Mining safety

A “culture of fear” was called out by an inquiry into coal mine safety, while the desperate search for missing mine workers Dylan Langridge and Trevor Davis remained underway on Wednesday.

The two men were later confirmed to have died after their vehicle plummeted into a void about 100 metres underground in the Dugald River mine, near Cloncurry.

11 recommendations were made in a report from the Resources and Transport Committee tabled in the Queensland parliament, following a six-month probe into the safety practices across the state’s coal mines.

Legislative reform is needed to address recurrent fatalities in the sector, the report said.

Since 2000, 26 Queensland coal miners have died at work.

Among the key recommendations were:

  • Increasing funding to Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) to increase its ability to monitor safety compliance.
  • Raising the proportion of unannounced RSHQ visits from 10-20% of all visits to 25%.
  • Ensuring greater consideration around how bonus structure affect safety, following reports some workers do not report safety incidents to ensure linked bonuses are received.

This report is just the latest tranche of recommendations to improve safety in the sector following a Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry report last year that made 65 recommendations.


Culture needs to change

Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) Acting General Secretary Jacqueline King said it was clear the culture in the mining sector needed to change.

“When workers are fearful of speaking out about safety concerns, when they are discouraged from taking action through their unions and when they are employed in insecure work or labour hire contracts, unfortunately it is the perfect storm for accidents and fatalities to occur,” she said.

Ms King said every worker should come home safely at the end of the day.

“Every workplace death is a tragedy; it is an irrevocable loss for family, friends and workmates.

“And even more tragically, many workplace deaths are preventable.

“We need to ensure the lens is placed firmly on prevention when it comes to workplace safety,” she said.

Ms King encouraged the Queensland government to enact legislation to address the report findings.

The QCU has expressed its deepest condolences to the family, friends and workmates of Dylan Langridge and Trevor Davis.