Genuine OHS harmonisation is at risk as each the states develop their own mining regulations under the new national Work Health and Safety Act, according to the mining industry.
Safe Work Australia is currently seeking final comments on the ‘core’ mining regulations, but NSW Minerals Council CEO Nikki Williams said the NSW, Queensland and Western Australian governments are determined to retain some of their unique, existing state mining provisions in what are known as new ‘non-core’ legislation.
“Each State is drafting their new laws individually and using different models,” she said.
“There are missing components and a large number of inconsistencies. If this process continues unchecked, the prospect of genuine legislative reform that will deliver a world-leading mining regulatory framework appears very remote.”
Speaking at the recent NSW minerals industry OHS Conference, Williams said the current approach was at odds with the Federal Government’s ultimate aims for a more efficient and effective system and a safer workplace.
“We are deeply disappointed that this has not been resolved and question why the core WHS regulations couldn’t be developed to effectively regulate all mining states,” she said.
“We are frustrated and we can’t understand why a sensible risk-based approach is being cast aside for a complicated and inconsistent regulatory system underpinning the new overarching national framework, when the ultimate goal should be better safety outcomes, not more bureaucracy.”
Williams said all industries, including mining, should feel the full benefit of OHS harmonisation.
“These changes should eliminate the tangled web of red tape for companies working across State borders that have been wrestling with up to eight different compliance regimes,” she said.
“But for NSW miners, almost unbelievably, it seems our State will remain out of step with other mining states.”