Mine bosses slammed over contractors becoming safety victims

MINE bosses are being told to pay attention to their contractors, with Queensland's top safety boffins sick of seeing contract workers becoming the victims in workplace incidents.

Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health Stewart Bell said managers needed to take more responsibility for contractor welfare, because contractors were often called in to perform specialised and often more dangerous tasks.

Mr Bell said in the past decade, "nine out of 10" deaths in the coal mining game were contractors.

"There are senior managers at these sites whose job it is to manage the risk as required by law for everyone who's working there - and that includes contractors," Mr Bell said.

The Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said the industry was working to fight the statistics and focus on protecting contractors.

Mr Bell's comments come as the Department of Mines released its annual safety performance report, showing two deaths in metal-mining in the 12 months to June 30, up from one the year before.

There were no deaths at coal mines in those 12 months.

The report suggests safety appears to be improving with fewer injuries and risky near-misses also down.

The department also publishes examples of what it calls "high potential incidents" - risky situations that could kill or main, and some are not just accidents, but acts of stupidity.

In one case, a haul truck driver climbed out his cockpit while moving to wave at a mate.

In others, the drivers of these hulking machines have been busted receiving or sending text messages.

And it is not just drivers that are risking lives.

A machine operating underground had its methane sensor covered by a plastic bag - the sensor is used to let workers know when methane levels become dangerously high.

In spite of such examples, University of Queensland safety expert Professor David Cliff said mining in Queensland was the safest in the world.

Prof Cliff said any improvements from now on would be small because "there are no more silver bullets".

"We're dealing with people and we're dealing with rare events," he said.

"But certainly compared to other countries, the data indicates that (Queensland) is a lot safer."


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