The Queensland mining industry has faced scrutiny over safety conditions in recent years, following the deaths of several workers. The Coal Mining Board of Inquiry is investigating the sector’s safety standards and has uncovered a number of workplace dangers within the industry.
Considering these dangers, it is vital miners and other mining company employees possess a clear understanding of their workplace rights, particularly regarding safety at work.
Miner safety rights
Miners and employees of mining companies have workplace rights in line with all Australian workers. These rights apply to all workers in mining, whether they be full time or casual, an Australian resident or visa holder.
The right to a fair, safe workplace
Mining workers have the right to work in an environment where their health, safety and conditions are actively protected and respected.
Under this right, miners should expect:
- Instruction on how to perform their responsibilities safely
- To be provided appropriate safety equipment for their role
- Consultation about safety in their workplace
Mining employees should know they can express concerns they may have about safety and that these concerns should be seriously considered by employers. If safety concerns aren’t remedied, workers in mining can refuse to perform work in unsafe conditions.
Workers can also expect to be paid according to their contract and the relevant wage standards for their role and industry. If required, workers also have a right to access the workers compensation scheme in their state.
Mining employers: duty of care
Mining employers, including mining companies and companies which provide services relating to mining, have a responsibility known as a duty of care to protect employees from foreseeable harm.
This duty includes taking actions such as:
- Observing any legal health and safety requirements
- Identifying risks to which employers are exposed to and acting appropriately to reduce them
- Investigating safety concerns raised by employees and taking the appropriate action
- Ensuring workers are provided with adequate safety training and the resources to perform their responsibilities safely
If a miner is injured at work, employers must accommodate the employee’s recovery and assist their return to the workplace.