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Mining Safety and Health

Resources Safety protects employees in the minerals industry by administering the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA) and Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 (WA).

Note that although some guidance material was prepared under the auspices of previous departments and divisions, it is still valid.

Act and regulations

Hard copies of the Act and associated regulations are only available from the State Law Publisher. Direct links are provided below.

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General duty of care

The legislation above defines standards of safety.  Safety systems that meet these standards have to be developed by companies and made part of day-to-day work practice.

Resources Safety is using an approach that makes it the employer's responsibility to manage safety, known as the general duty of care in Western Australian mines, available below.

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Instruments of declaration

Construction work at some mine sites may be subject to an "instrument of declaration", under which provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 apply rather than the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 or Mining Act 1978. Declarations are published in the Government Gazette, available from the State Law Publisher website.

Further information and a list of current instruments of declaration are available from the WorkSafe website.

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Exemptions

Under the provisions of regulations 1.4 or 1.5 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995, an exemption from a specific regulation may be granted by the State Mining  Engineer if it is satisfied that:

  • there is substantial compliance with the requirement (r. 1.4) or
  • compliance with the requirement would be unnecessary or impracticable (r. 1.5).

Although there is no requirement for a specific application form, a pro-forma is available to apply for an exemption. It is essential that the items listed are addressed in sufficient detail for the application to be assessed.  Additional information may be requested where required. The pro forma application is available below.

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General exemptions

General exemptions - revocations

On 17 June 2013, the State Mining Engineer revoked previously issued General Exemptions for:

  • regulation 6.34, issued 14 June 2010 regarding the registration of certain classified plant
  • regulation 6.34(1), issued 21 December 2006 regarding the registration of certain itinerant classified plant
  • regulation 6.34(1), issued 9 December 2003 regarding the registration of certain classified plant

and issued a new General Exemption (PDF 67 kb) that clarifies requirements for the registration of certain classified plant.

On 12 January 2013, the State Mining Engineer revoked a previously issued General Exemption for:

  • regulations 3.25(2)(e) and 26(2)(e), issued on 18 July 1996 regarding requirements for routine chest x-rays

as it was no longer necessary following the cessation of the requirement for initial and periodic health assessments.

On 11 January 2013, the State Mining Engineer revoked previously issued General Exemptions for:

  • regulation 4.2, issued 23 November 2009 regarding the Australian Standard for safe working in a confined space
  • regulation 6.33, issued 18 December 2007 regarding Australian Standards for boilers, cranes, hoists, pressure vessels and lifts

as they are no longer necessary following amendment of regulation 1.3, which changed the definition of Australian Standards.

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Codes of practice

Statutory and other reviews and reports

Review reports of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 and the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) for the past decade are listed below.

Excluding the Hicks Report, copies of these reports and reviews are available from Resources Safety at rsdcomms@dmp.wa.gov.au

Kenner Report (2009)

A statutory review of the operation and effectiveness of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (WA) has been conducted by Commissioner S J Kenner of the WA Industrial Relations Commission.

The review was also required to take into account the:

  • Areas of the legislation that could be improved, such as the application to rail safety, mine sites during construction and interaction with other occupational safety and health legislation
  • Goals and strategies of the National Mine Safety Framework
  • Recent "Hicks Report" on Feasibility Study of Resources Safety in Western Australia that recommended the introduction of a safety case regime into the mining industry
  • Recommendations outstanding from the "Laing Report" in relation to the review of Parts 3 and 4 of the Act
  • Recent review of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) by Mr Richard Hooker.

Submissions closed on 31 January 2008. Commissioner Kenner's report was tabled in Parliament on 8 April 2009. 

Laing Report (2003)

It is a requirement of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (MSIA) that a review of operation and effectiveness of the Act be undertaken as soon as is practicable after the expiration of 5 years from its commencement. The first review was conducted by R Laing in 2003.

Hicks Report (2007)

The Feasibility Study of Resources Safety in Western Australia was undertaken in 2006-07 by Mr Stuart Hicks, who reported to the then Minister for Employment Protection and Minister for Resources.

Hooker Report (2006)

It is a requirement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) that a review of the Act’s operations be carried out on every fifth anniversary of its commencement. The Hooker Report is the fourth such review.

Ritter Report (2004)

On 15 July 2004, the then Minister for State Development appointed Mr Mark Ritter to conduct an inquiry into the occupational health and safety systems and practices of BHP Billiton Iron Ore and Boodarie Iron sites in Western Australia and related matters, and report on 12 November 2004.

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Enforcement and prosecution policy

The enforcement and prosecution policy (provided below) applies to those acts and regulations administered by Resources Safety that relate to occupational safety and health for the resources sector and dangerous goods safety.

The primary focus of much of the legislation administered by Resources Safety is to ensure resources development in Western Australia is carried out in a way that is safe for employees and the public.

The legislation provides a range of enforcement and prosecution measures to help achieve this. When required, enforcement or prosecution action is taken in the public interest to protect people and the environment.

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Occupational Safety and Health Tribunal

The Occupational Safety and Health Tribunal is established to deal with some administrative matters under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994.

Many of the functions to be carried out by the Tribunal were previously dealt with by safety and health magistrates. The Tribunal deals with matters such as:

  • the review of a decision by the WorkSafe Commissioner or the State Mining Engineer on the review of a prohibition or improvement notice
  • a question relating to an election for a safety and health representative (safety and health representative) that the WorkSafe Commissioner or the State Mining Engineer have been unable to resolve
  • a question as to whether a safety and health representative should be disqualified
  • a determination of a variation of entitlements to time off work with pay or the payments for attendance at a course of training in the safety and health representative's own time
  • a 'discrimination' claim by a safety and health representative
  • the entitlement of an employee to wages and conditions under stop work provisions; and, appeals against decisions by the WorkSafe Commissioner and State Mining Engineer.

The Tribunal operates under the auspices of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission . Prosecutions will continue to be dealt with by safety and health magistrates in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia.

The Tribunal shares a website, reception counter, and hearing rooms with the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission, which is located at:

16th Floor, 111 St George's Terrace
PERTH WA 6000
Telephone (08) 9420 4444
Free call for country callers 1800 624 263
Fax (08) 9420 4500

A matter is referred to the Tribunal by completion of a Notice of Referral to the Occupational Safety and Health Tribunal, which can be obtained directly from the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission by phone or fax or downloaded from the website.

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Inspectorate boundaries

Mine Safety and Inspection Act pamphlet series

Resources Safety has produced a series of pamphlets that provide summary information on what employers and employees need to know about the Mine Safety and Inspection Act.

The pamphlets provide general guidance only. The relevant Acts and regulations should be consulted for detailed information, or contact your regional inspectorate. You can access the Mine Safety and Inspection Act pamphlets from the mining safety publications section.

 

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