What safety legislation applies to mining operations?
Act and regulations
There are two pieces of legislation that define the standards of occupational safety and health for Western Australian mining operations.
Western Australian legislation is also available in hard copy format from the Parliamentary Counsel’s web site.
Work health and safety legislation reform
The new Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) will replace the current Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, and elements of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994, the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act 1967, the Petroleum Pipelines Act 1969, the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982, and the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Safety Levies Act 2011 that relate to work health and safety.
For further information, visit the Work health and safety reform website.
What about the mines safety levy?
The Mines Safety and Inspection Levy Regulations 2010 provide the mechanism for collecting a levy to support regulatory activities associated with mines safety.
Legislation relating to dangerous goods may also apply to mining operations. Mining operators should be aware of their responsibilities under the dangerous goods safety legislation.
For further guidance, refer to Dangerous goods safety legislation
National and state reform programs that aim to streamline and improve the regulation of workplace health and safety are currently underway.
Introduction to the mines safety legislation
A series of pamphlets is available that summarises information on what employers and workers need to know about the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994.
The pamphlets provide general guidance only. The relevant legislation should be consulted for detailed information.
The Mines Safety and Inspection Act (MSIA) pamphlets are available at Publications and resources
What is the general duty of care?
The Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 imposes general duty of care provisions to maintain safe and healthy workplaces at mining operations and protect people at work from hazards.
General duty of care obligations apply to:
- contractors and their employees
- labour hire agents and workers
- people involved in the design, supply, installation and maintenance of plant.
The Act outlines the obligations of each group and provides penalties for any breaches of those obligations to help prevent unsafe situations. It provides a framework where the general duty of care is supported by consultation, cooperation, workplace standards and procedures to resolve issues. The concept of general duty of care is the guiding principle for all other parts of the Act.
The Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995 describe some of the requirements that apply to specific work situations. While the regulations must be complied with, the overriding responsibility is to comply with the general duties in the Act.
What is an instrument of declaration?
An instrument of declaration allows matters that are normally covered by mine safety legislation to be transferred temporarily to the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, such as construction work at some mine sites.
Further information and a list of current instruments of declaration are available from WorkSafe.
Declarations are published in the Government Gazette, available from the Parliamentary Counsel’s web site.
Exemptions from Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995
A company may seek an exemption from a specific regulation in the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulation 1995. For the exemption to be granted, the State Mining Engineer must be satisfied that:
- there is substantial compliance with the requirement (see r. 1.4)
- compliance with the requirement would be unnecessary or impracticable (see r. 1.5).
The pro-forma available in Applying for a mines safety exemption can be used to assist in applying for an exemption.
Refer to rr. 1.4 and 1.5 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995.
The State Mining Engineer may also issue general exemptions from the provisions of the Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995. These apply across all mining operations.
General exemptions are published in the Government Gazette, available from the Parliamentary Counsel’s web site.
The current general exemptions are listed below.
Revoked general exemptions
General exemptions may be either revoked (i.e. cancelled) or revoked and replaced with another by the State Mining Engineer.
The general exemption issued on 28 May 2007 regarding the submission of mine plans was revoked on 17 September 2014. A new general exemption was issued that allows mine plans to be submitted as a PDF file rather than hard copy.
Regulations 6.34 and 6.34(1)
The general exemptions issued on:
- 14 June 2010 [r 6.34] and 9 December 2003 [r. 6.34(1)] regarding the registration of certain classified plant
- 21 December 2006 [r. 6.34(1)] )] regarding the registration of certain itinerant classified plant
were revoked on 17 June 2013 and a new general exemption issued to clarify the requirements for the registration of certain classified plant.
Regulations 3.52(2) and 26(2)e
The general exemption issued on 18 July 1996 regarding the requirements for routine chest x-rays was revoked on 12 January 2013. Routine chest x-rays are no longer necessary following the cessation of the requirement for initial and periodic health assessments.
Regulations 4.2 and 6.33
The general exemptions issued on:
- 23 November 2009 [r. 4.2] regarding the Australian Standard for safe working in a confined space
- 18 December 2007 [r. 6.33] regarding Australian Standards for boilers, cranes, hoists, pressure vessels and lifts
were revoked on 11 January 2013, following the amendment of regulation 1.3 to change the definition of Australian Standards.