MINE SAFETY: Harry Bruce’s cartoon.
MINE SAFETY: Harry Bruce’s cartoon.

Fear of speaking out on mine safety an industry-wide issue

A MINING boss says a perception that miners will be disciplined or dismissed for reporting safety issues runs deep throughout the industry.

Anglo American metallurgical coal chief executive Tyler Mitchelson told the Coal Mining Board of Inquiry that workers at the company would "absolutely not" face repercussions or lose their jobs if they reported a safety matter.

But he recognised there was an industry-wide perception among workers that flagging safety concerns would lead to discipline or dismissal.

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"It's a perception of the industry," Mr Mitchelson said.

"In discussions with our own workforce, there is that perception, and it's something that we took on from the safety resets last year.

"Every coal mine company or every mining company had to do them, and it was

a great piece of feedback to be able to engage with the workforce directly to understand what were those concerns.

"From that, we've looked at how do we change our internal reporting culture to make it safe and make it comfortable."

Anglo American metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson at the public hearing on Monday.
Anglo American metallurgical coal business chief executive Tyler Mitchelson at the public hearing on Monday.

Mr Mitchelson said the company's Moranbah North and Grosvenor mines had an active reporting and safety culture.

He said the more than 3500 hazard reports at Grosvenor last year and almost 2000 at Moranbah North were evidence of this.

The CFMEU has staunchly opposed casualisation in the mining sector over concerns that safety issues are under-reported because employees fear they will get the sack if they speak up.

On Monday, Mr Mitchelson told the inquiry that of the 980 people employed at Grosvenor mine, he estimated about 70 to 75 per cent were labour hire workers.

Labor Senator for Queensland Murray Watt said the high rate of casual and labour hire workers in the mining industry had affected safety across the sector.

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"I have met people in that situation where they have been employed as casuals for years but because they are so concerned about losing their job if they speak up, they keep their mouths quiet when they see safety issues and of course, that puts the entire workforce at risk," he said.

"It's no surprise that if people are worried about keeping their job day-to-day, they don't want to speak up about safety issues."



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