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Are There Any REAL Improvements For Coal Mine Labour Hire And Contractor Employment Security For Those Who Raise Safety Concerns From The Grosvenor Inquiry Findings And Recommendations?

Are there any REAL Improvements for Coal Mine Labour Hire and Contractor Employment Security for those who raise Safety Concerns from the Grosvenor Inquiry Findings and Recommendations?

Are there any REAL Improvements for Coal Mine Labour Hire and Contractor Employment Security from the Grosvenor Inquiry Findings and Recommendations?

Well except for some feel good words and suggestions in the Recommendations I cannot see anything that will improve the lot of actual Labour Hire and Contractor workers.

It is pathetically laughable to believe that the same Mines Inspectorate and RSHQ that have overseen the likes of North Goonyella and Grosvenor is capable of proactively doing anything to undertake Recommendation 30

In relation to reprisal complaints, the Inspectorate undertakes prompt and thorough investigations, and provides appropriate feedback to complainants during the investigation and prosecution process. 

We are still waiting after 3 years for the Mines Inspectorate findings from North Goonyella.

What help can they give to old mate who has received their marching orders off site months and months, if not years ago; and then for some unexplainable reason is finding it hard to find a job at another mine?

What else did they recommend?

Recommendation 19

Coal mines review their site induction procedures to ensure that all new workers at the mine, including labour hire workers and contractors, are fully informed about the fundamental importance of the reporting of safety concerns, including occupational health hazards, and assured that reprisals will not be taken in response

Wow there can be a Safety Committee.

Recommendation 27

Consistently with Part 7 of the MQSHA and Part 5 of the WHS Act, RSHQ takes steps to amend the Act to enable the formation of safety committees upon request by an SSHR or when directed by the Chief Inspector.

There will be a consideration of 5 year Strategic Plan to facilitate improvements in reporting culture.

Recommendation 28

As part of carrying out its functions under section 76A of the Act, CMSHAC considers including within its 5 year Strategic Plan activities that will facilitate improvements in the reporting culture in Queensland coal mines. 

Recommendation 29

RSHQ takes advice, as required, and if necessary, takes steps to amend section 275AA of the Act to clarify the application of the reprisal offence, with a view to strengthening protections for workers. For example, this may involve including a definition of ‘detriment’.

Letting RSHQ seek its own legal advice and if necessary take any action is literally leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse.

That will not happen if it means RSHQ leadership would have to make themselves more publicly accountable.

The same group of Public Servants who referred to in May 2017 the 55th Parliament Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee delivered Report No. 2,

https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableOffice/TabledPapers/2017/5517T815.pdf

Recommendation 67 deals with the whether any public servants mislead or breached the relevant Code of Practice for Public Service Employees Assisting or Appearing before Parliamentary Committee.

The committee recommends that the Public Service Commissioner review the transcripts of public and private hearings of the committee involving Queensland public servants and consider the extent to which those officers cooperated with and assisted the committee, including whether or not any public servant misled the committee or otherwise breached the Code of Practice for Public Service Employees Assisting or Appearing Before Parliamentary Committees.

Recommendation 29

RSHQ takes advice, as required, and if necessary, takes steps to amend section 275AA of the Act to clarify the application of the reprisal offence, with a view to strengthening protections for workers. For example, this may involve including a definition of ‘detriment’.

The full list of Findings and Recommendations are below.

Chapter 11 – Labour hire and contract employment arrangements

Finding 85  

There is a perception among coal mine workers that a labour hire worker or contractor who raises safety concerns at a mine might jeopardise their ongoing employment at the mine. It has not been possible to assess how widespread that perception might be. However, the existence of a perception, no matter how widespread, creates a risk that safety concerns will not always be raised.

Finding 86  

The perception that a labour hire worker or contractor might jeopardise their employment by raising safety concerns at a mine creates a risk that safety concerns will not always be raised. 

Finding 87  

It is critical to safety at mines that all safety concerns are raised in a timely way. 

Finding 88  

It is critical that all workers believe that they can raise safety concerns at mines without fear that their employment may be in jeopardy as a result.

Finding 89  

Coal mines must be vigilant to address the perception that labour hire workers and contractors might jeopardise their ongoing employment by raising safety concerns.

Finding 90  

Production and safety bonuses largely based on lag safety performance indicators are not a reliable means of improving safety outcomes and may in fact lead to under-reporting of safety incidents and injuries.

Finding 91  

An extensive study undertaken by the Coal Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee (CMSHAC) on reporting culture in coal mines would benefit the industry in Queensland.

Finding 92  

Neither coal mine operators nor Site Senior Executives (SSEs) presently have an obligation to report the occurrence of high potential incidents (HPIs) involving labour hire workers to the labour hire agency that supplied those workers.

Finding 93  

In Queensland, labour hire agencies providing workers to the coal mining industry have no clear and express obligation to ensure that the workplaces into which they send their employees are as safe as reasonably practicable (such as that contained in section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (the NSW Act)), and may be entirely unaware of the occurrence of incidents that pose a risk of significant adverse effects to the safety and health of those employees. Even if a labour hire agency becomes aware of the occurrence of a reportable HPI, it has no obligation to report it to the Regulator.[1]

Finding 94  

The imposition of a safety and health obligation on labour hire agencies which employ coal mine workers, such as that set out in section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) (the WHS Act), would make coal mine operators and labour hire agencies mutually responsible for the safety and health of labour hire workers and add a layer of oversight of safe practices. 

Additionally, a labour hire agency subject to such an obligation would be likely to develop a culture that encouraged its workers to report—to its own management—safety and health incidents and concerns. This may lead to the reporting of HPIs that might otherwise escape the attention of the Regulator.

Finding 95  

There is scope to improve the mechanisms for safety issues to be raised by workers. Safety committees similar to those in the WHS Act and the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 (MQSHA) are not provided for under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 (Qld) (the Act).

Finding 96  

The term ‘detriment’ in sections 275AA and 275AB of the Act is not defined.

Finding 97  

Prompt and thorough investigation of reprisal complaints, and the provision of appropriate feedback to complainants, will reassure workers generally that such complaints are taken seriously, and will also enhance the prospects of success in a prosecution. 

Recommendations

Recommendation 19

Coal mines review their site induction procedures to ensure that all new workers at the mine, including labour hire workers and contractors, are fully informed about the fundamental importance of the reporting of safety concerns, including occupational health hazards, and assured that reprisals will not be taken in response. This will include ensuring that all new workers at the mine are aware of and understand the operation of sections 274, 275, 275AA and 275AB of the Act.

Recommendation 20

RSHQ takes steps, through the consultative process provided by CMSHAC, to include a component in the generic induction for coal mine workers (Recognised standard 11: Training in Coal Mines) on the roles of the Industry Safety and Health Representative and Site Safety and Health Representative, so as to promote awareness of the functions of each.

Recommendation 21

Mine operators review their contracts with labour hire agencies and include, where necessary, provision for a documented process by which performance management issues, and grievance issues, in respect of labour hire workers are addressed. 

Recommendation 22

The industry reviews its production and safety bonus structures and make any necessary changes to ensure that those structures do not inadvertently discourage the reporting of safety incidents or injuries.

Recommendation 23

Similarly to the SSE’s obligations under sections 106(1)(a), (b) and (c) of the Act, RSHQ takes steps to amend the Act to require the SSE at a mine to inform the management of a labour hire agency which has employees at the mine when the following events occur, as soon as practicable after the event comes to the SSE’s knowledge:

  1. an injury or illness to an employee of the labour hire agency from coal mining operations that causes an absence from work of the person;
  2. a high potential incident happening at the coal mine;
  3. any proposed changes to the coal mine, or plant or substances used at the coal mine that affect, or may affect, the safety and health of persons at the mine.

Recommendation 24

RSHQ takes steps to amend the Act to require labour hire agencies to notify the Regulator of a serious accident, an HPI of a type prescribed under a regulation, or a death at a coal mine, involving their employees.

Recommendation 25

Without diminishing the burden, or extent, of obligations imposed on others under the Act, RSHQ takes steps to amend the Act to impose a safety and health obligation on labour hire agencies which supply workers to a mine, in similar terms to section 19 of the NSW Act.

Recommendation 26

When submitting a panel of names of individuals experienced in coal mining operations as nominees for membership of CMSHAC under section 79 of the Act, organisations representing coal mine operators should ensure the panel includes representatives of labour hire agencies.

Recommendation 27

Consistently with Part 7 of the MQSHA and Part 5 of the WHS Act, RSHQ takes steps to amend the Act to enable the formation of safety committees upon request by an SSHR or when directed by the Chief Inspector.

Recommendation 28

As part of carrying out its functions under section 76A of the Act, CMSHAC considers including within its 5 year Strategic Plan activities that will facilitate improvements in the reporting culture in Queensland coal mines. 

Recommendation 29

RSHQ takes advice, as required, and if necessary, takes steps to amend section 275AA of the Act to clarify the application of the reprisal offence, with a view to strengthening protections for workers. For example, this may involve including a definition of ‘detriment’.

Recommendation 30

In relation to reprisal complaints, the Inspectorate undertakes prompt and thorough investigations, and provides appropriate feedback to complainants during the investigation and prosecution process. 

[1] Resources Safety & Health Queensland (RSHQ), of which the Coal Mines Inspectorate is a division, is the Regulator of the coal mining industry. Previously, the Regulator was the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME), formerly DNRM, the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

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