The offence of industrial manslaughter may soon be applied to Queensland's mining industry after a spate of deaths.
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham says he’s actively considering the move, after emergency talks sparked by six deaths at Queensland mines and quarry sites over the past year.
Wednesday’s talks also resulted in an agreement to re-educate the state’s 50,000 mine and quarry workers about deadly workplace risks by the end of August.
Unions say there’s now recognition by government and industry that the culture around safety must change.
“We have achieved a commitment to tackle reckless behaviour in the workplace, and to put industrial manslaughter laws on the table,” CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Steve Smyth said after the talks.
“We cannot, however, afford to fail. Too many lives have been lost already.”
The Queensland Resources Council, which joined the talks, has welcomed the new safety drive, describing the current situation as “extraordinarily serious”.
The council says any laws that would expose sector workers to the offence of industrial manslaughter must be carefully drafted.
“Workers may go to jail as a result of this legislation,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.
Two independent reviews have been ordered after a spate of deaths, the latest on the weekend when Jack Gerdes, 27, died after being injured by an excavator at a central Queensland coal mine.
One review will look into coal mine fatalities since 2000, and the other into current health and safety legislation.