MINE workers addicted to social media are putting lives at risk, distracted by portable electronics while handling heavy machinery, the Queensland Government's Mine Inspectorate revealed on Tuesday.
The inspectorate - the group directly in charge of mine safety - is investigating several serious or high-potential incidents attributed to a worker using mobile gadgets.
High potential incidents occur when someone is put at risk or narrowly avoids serious injury.
An industry-wide safety bulletin for mining was released on Tuesday alongside a similar warning for road users, highlighting the risk of being distracted behind the wheel.
The inspectorate reported it was "aware of mine workers using mobile devices while operating vehicles or other mobile plant".
Workers potentially are checking Facebook while controlling bulldozers, graders, dump trucks and excavators which can weigh more than 100 tonnes.
Chief inspector of Coal Mines Gavin Taylor said these were not one-off acts of stupidity.
"The inspectorate believes the use of mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads - and interaction on social media - is widespread at open-cut coal mines," Mr Taylor said.
"This is a significant safety concern, given the size and gross weights of equipment moving around on site."
So far, being distracted had not caused any actual injuries but workers "engaging in social media" were now being investigated after the near-misses.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union Queensland district secretary Tim Whyte said the union had not heard too many reports of risky behaviour with mobile technology.
He said mine companies often did not like mobiles on site because it meant photos could be distributed if something went wrong.
"The issue is, mobile phones anywhere in a heavy or light vehicle should not be used," Mr Whyte said.
"That's why it's outlawed on the road.
"There's been enough accidents to do with alcohol, fatigue and inattention due to mobile phones."
Mr Taylor said while incidents were under investigation, the inspectorate would not elaborate on them.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.