The Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry is under way in Brisbane.
The Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry is under way in Brisbane.

Inspectorate under fire for failure to share safety records

THE person responsible for overseeing safety and health at Queensland coal mines has been accused of failing to share safety information with industry safety and health representatives.

The Coal Mining Board of Inquiry on Wednesday heard ISHRs had been removed from the Mines Inspectorate's email distribution list of mine record entries, which inform the outcome of a mine inspection.

The role of an ISHR is to represent coal mine workers on safety and health matters.

The inquiry heard regional mines inspector Stephen Smith sent an email in February 2020 stating ISHRs and other company representatives would no longer be included in the email distribution.

Chief inspector of coal mines, Peter Newman, said he gave this instruction to Mr Smith because he understood it was the inspectorate's legal obligation to only distribute the mine record entry to the site senior executive and operator for confidentiality reasons.

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Coal Mining Board of Inquiry chair Terry Martin questioned why Mr Newman would not want to share a safety matter with the industry representative.

"It does not mandate that you can't send (the mine record entry) to the ISHR representative," Mr Martin said.

"Why in the interests of safety and sharing information about a matter of safety would you not include the industry representative, whose very function is to help out in relation to mine safety?"

Chief inspector of coal mines Peter Newman.
Chief inspector of coal mines Peter Newman.

Mr Newman said he was not impeding the sharing of safety information, to which Mr Martin responded: "Well, you're certainly not enabling that, as it was before."

Mr Newman said it was not his intention to prevent ISHRs or coal mine workers from having access to the mine record entry, which was still being posted on the mine site noticeboard.

"There is ongoing dialogue between the ISHR, my inspectorate and myself with respect to any matter about health and safety matters," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the inquiry heard claims there had been a breakdown in the relationship between ISHRs and the Mines Inspectorate.

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In a tendered document, CFMEU ISHR Jason Hill said the inspectorate no longer allowed ISHRs to gather evidence at the same time as them, that ISHRs had been "pushed out of the investigation process" and had been refused access to mine sites on some occasions.

Mr Newman refuted that there had been any breakdown in relationship.