Report shows resource improvement
A new WA mining safety report shows one mine worker is seriously injured in the state every day.
Nearly 1,900 workers have died on the job in Western Australia’s mining in the past 130 years.
Safety standards have improved dramatically in the past 20 years, but the new figures show WA mine workers are still seriously injured at a rate of one every day.
The report by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) shows the resources sector now has 16,000 more workers than it did during the mining boom.
In 1997/98 there were 13 mining deaths in WA, but the number of people working in the industry has since tripled. Still, in the 12 months to June 30 last year, two truck drivers died.
Lost-time injuries (LTIs) increased by 20 per cent in 2018-19 to 425. The total number of days workers lost to injury was 10,359, while another 11,776 days were spent by workers on restricted duties.
There were 365 “serious” incidents that disabled a worker for two weeks or more.
WA Mines Minister Bill Johnston says the industry must maintain its safety standards as it grows.
“I think there have been real improvements in the West Australian resource sector for safety performance, but this report shows there is still room for improvement,” he said.
“There's no question that zero harm has to be the objective.”
The state is trying to pass beefed-up workplace health and safety laws this year, which include new provisions for employers to be charged with industrial manslaughter, carrying penalties of up to 20 years' jail and fines of up to $5 million for an individual and $10 million for a corporation.
“Penalties play a part because you have to hold people responsible for their own actions,” Mr Johnston said.
“I would not expect that charge [industrial manslaughter] to be issued very often, because it's for the most serious and egregious circumstance, but it's obviously important to have that option available for the courts.”