MINE TRAGEDIES: Donald Rabbitt (right top) Brad Duxbury (right middle) and Jack Gerdes (right bottom) all died at Queensland mines and quarries.
MINE TRAGEDIES: Donald Rabbitt (right top) Brad Duxbury (right middle) and Jack Gerdes (right bottom) all died at Queensland mines and quarries.

Plan to establish mine death unit in Queensland

RESOURCES Safety and Health Queensland will set up a dedicated mine death investigation unit as the industry grapples with a spate of fatalities over the past 18 months.

In his statutory declaration to the Coal Mining Board of Inquiry, chief inspector of coal mines Peter Newman said the unit would be established by 2022.

Known as the Serious Accident Investigation Unit, it would comprise specialised inspectors and an investigation officer to probe all fatalities and serious accidents in the coal mining industry.

The unit would be a single point of contact for serious accidents, while regional inspectors would continue to manage high potential incident investigations.

Queensland's mines inspectors are currently tasked with investigating fatalities, serious accidents and HPIs.

The first week of hearings as part of the inquiry has finished.

Another two weeks of hearings are scheduled to start on Monday.

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

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They will focus the role of the Mines Inspectorate, the role of the industry and site safety and health representatives and how the management structure and employment arrangements of the mining companies may impact on mine safety.

They will also explore the methane exceedances at Grasstree, Moranbah North and Oaky North mines.

Earlier this week, Burdekin MP Dale Last said the hearings had proved the safety system for Queensland mines and quarries was a "dismal failure".

"Minister Lynham and Labor have failed when it comes to ensuring our mine and quarry workers go home safe every day," Mr Last said.

"That will change under an LNP government because people who do the wrong thing will be held to account, not just through the courts but when it comes to their ability to participate in the industry.

"I don't care which company it is, the message is clear.

"You will stick to the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law, or you can look forward to a very unpleasant meeting with the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines."

Harry Bruce’ cartoon.
Harry Bruce’ cartoon.

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said he was "gravely concerned" over the LNP's latest comments on mine safety.

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"Five months ago, they voted with the government in the parliament to establish an independent Resources Safety and Health Queensland with just one role - to protect mine workers," Dr Lynham said.

"Today, Mr Last plans to take over mine safety and health personally as investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury.

"We have made sweeping reforms to mine safety and health over the past five years.

"This includes keeping investigations and prosecutions independent of politicians - as they are across the developed world."