SUPPORT: Michael Garrels lost his son Jason, 20, in a Clermont workplace death. He is now the chair of the consultative committee for work-related fatalities and serious incidents. Picture: Arthur Gorrie
SUPPORT: Michael Garrels lost his son Jason, 20, in a Clermont workplace death. He is now the chair of the consultative committee for work-related fatalities and serious incidents. Picture: Arthur Gorrie

Win for workers: Families’ relief over mine death laws

MINING families waiting years for industrial manslaughter laws to be extended to the industry, yesterday got their wish.

Mine executives face up to 20 years in jail if a worker dies because of their criminal negligence, after Queensland Parliament passed tough new mine safety laws.

Consultative committee for work-related fatalities and serious incidents chair Michael Garrels - who lost his son Jason, 20, in a Clermont workplace death in 2012 - said the group was relieved.

"We have been advocating for this for a long time," he said.

"I have been in touch with several families in the ­resources sector.

"They all will be very ­supportive of this."

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Mackay MP Julieanne ­Gilbert said extending industrial manslaughter as an offence in mines and quarries would protect 50,000 workers.

Moranbah Miners' Memorial.
Moranbah Miners' Memorial.

"This offence sends the clear message to employers and senior officers that the safety and health of their workers is paramount," Mrs Gilbert said.

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the spate of Queensland mine deaths in ­recent years was "not ­acceptable".

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"Safety on a mine site is everybody's responsibility," Dr Lynham said.

"But a safety culture needs to be modelled right from the top and creating the offence of industrial manslaughter is to ensure senior company ­officers do all they can to ­create a safe mine site."

Burdekin MP Dale Last said while there had been calls across the sector for the new laws, he questioned whether the government had got it right.

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham. Picture: Daryl Wright
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham. Picture: Daryl Wright

"One of the major flaws identified in this legislation was that it only applied to permanent employees and not contractors," Mr Last said.

"The minister's amendment to delay this process for 18 months does not give the ­certainty industry requires ­regarding responsibility and accountability when contractors are relieving senior ­positions."

CFMEU Mining and ­Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth described the move as a "great achievement".

The union has strongly advocated for the laws.

"The critical roles of Deputy and Open Cut Examiner must be directly employed and focus on safety, rather than production. This is an important element of the new laws and we are pleased it was retained despite intense industry opposition, but disappointed it won't be enforced for 18 months," Mr Smyth said.



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