Special Counsel, MinterEllison
In 2018 there were a number of amendments to the resources safety legislation in Queensland including in relation to contractor management and the introduction of a positive obligation on officers to exercise due diligence. This positive obligation is a significant change and it is important that organisations in the resources sector conduct a review of their safety governance systems to ensure that their Board and Executives are able to discharge their personal obligations.
Other potential reforms to the Resources Safety Acts have been debated that would essentially bring them into line with the recently amended WHS Act, including in relation to the introduction of an industrial manslaughter offence. There has also been a number of serious safety incidents in the Queensland mining sector which has meant that the Mines Inspectorate is on high alert.
This paper will discuss the amendments, proposed reforms and regulatory environment in the current climate, including providing insights into current industry issues.
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- Post explosion atmosphere monitoring:– An industry study into available, low powered, sensors were conducted. The study was to identify commercially available equipment to sample the mine atmosphere post an underground incident.
- Ultra-resilient communication system:– An investigation was undertaken into the feasibility of components for a robust and resilient mine communication network. The network must survive an underground incident and be able to transmit information in and out of an underground mine environment.
- Blast protection (or blast resilience):– The blast protection was evaluated through subjecting different shapes of enclosures to actual blasts, in an explosion propagation tube.
- Navigational aids:– A series of test were undertaken to determine the suitability of using visible light, infra-red as well as radar to aid in self rescue. All test were undertaken in a “dusty”, or low-visibility, environment.
- Roadside facing batter angle.
- Width at the top, if applicable, trapezoidal bunds.
- Distance to high-wall.
- Is an objective and quantitative process to monitor / audit bunds compliance to standard in real time.
- Cost and time efficient solution as to comply with inspectorate recommendations then survey would be required, incurring in extra cost to audit.
- Visibility across all active bunds and ranking of deficient sections to prioritise as per criticality.