Harry Bruce's take on the 'she'll be right, mate' safety culture at mine sites.
Harry Bruce's take on the 'she'll be right, mate' safety culture at mine sites.

Coal bonuses breed ’she’ll be right’ attitude to safety

SAFETY concerns are being brushed aside at mine sites as workers strive to reach coal production targets and bonuses.

Workers are also failing to learn and follow the extensive regulations as they adopt a "bull at a gate" mentality to production.

The explosive claims were from Oaky North site safety and health representative Joe Barber at the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry this week.

Mr Barber told the inquiry he believed workers not knowing the regulations was an issue, and suggested more active training was needed.

"They (workers) don't know the regulations. They don't know the Act," Mr Barber said.

"I don't know it fully, either.

"I suppose it's not that they don't really care, but they just - they just - they sometimes go a bit bull at a gate."


More stories:

Resource sector injects billions into CQ communities

Miner reports 32% drop in met coal after gas incident

Mining giant's Bowen Basin sites weather COVID storm

Resource industry urges govt to copy WA recovery plan

Numbers crunched: Mining's key role in Qld economy


Mr Barber said the regulations could be broken down into "major ones that certain people need to know about".

As an example, Mr Barber recalled a situation when an electrician turned off a fan without safety oversight in the section in a development panel.

"You can't do that, there's that much gas in there," he said.

" … He got hauled over the coals for it.

"I witnessed him talking to someone that he didn't really think that he'd done anything wrong.

"So then I pulled the extraction out of the regs and took it to him and showed him his obligations and said that if I ever found him doing that again, I would personally take him to the SSE.

"That's where they don't - a young bloke in the industry and just had no regard for it at all and didn't know what was - there was gas build-up in the stubs there."

On being asked "how big a problem" it was, Mr Barber replied: "I think it's a big problem.

"I don't know whether it's - you can train people.

"You know, you can give them as much training as you want to, but they've got to - it is a problem.


Subscriber benefits:

Join us for morning tea: Your chance to win a tablet

Five ways to get more from your digital subscription

WATCH: Your guide to reading the Daily Mercury online

Your questions about the new Daily Mercury format answered

How to make the most of your Mercury subscription

Daily puzzles and Sudoku another reason to stay subscribed

We're still here: How to contact your journalists


"We've got such a big workforce, and the push to get the coal out, you know, like, 'she'll be right, mate. Let's just keep going'."

Inquiry chairman and board member Terry Martin then asked what the incentive was behind it.

"Coal bonus. They look good when they've got X amount of metres, more coal than the previous shift," he answered.