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Merry Christmas from the Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health

21 December 2020

Wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy new year from the Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health Kate du Preez.

To everyone who works in the resources industries

I would like to wish you all a very happy, safe and healthy Christmas. I hope that you manage to spend some well-earned time with family and friends in joy and celebration.

Christmas is traditionally a time of reflection and renewal. A time to look back on the year that has gone and a time to plan for the new year ahead.

In 2019–20, the Queensland mining community was once again in mourning. Three men went to work at coal mines in Queensland and did not come home. I would like to express my most sincere sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of these men. The resources community has a close knit bond and ripple effects from these tragic events continue to have deep and ongoing impact on families, colleagues and the broader community.

The coal mining industry also came the closest it has come to a major disaster since Moura No. 2 in 1994 when, on 6 May 2020, five men at Grosvenor mine experienced significant burns as a result of a methane gas ignition.

These issues are currently being investigated by the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry which recently published its part 1 report. The board will continue to meet in 2021, with a second report required to be provided to the Minister for Resources by 31 May 2021.

It is important for the entire resources industry to monitor the outcomes and recommendations of the Board of Inquiry. Although they are quite different in many respects, the coal mining, mineral mining and quarrying, petroleum and gas, and explosives industries do have one core element in common—they are all low probability/high consequence industries operating in complex, dynamic environments. Some of the issues discussed and examined by the board are not exclusive to the coal mining industry—there are important learnings for everyone.

There are also lessons for all of the resources industries from Dr Sean Brady’s recent Review of all fatal accidents in Queensland mines and quarries from 2000 to 2019. In particular, Dr Brady’s recommendation for the adoption of the principles of high reliability organisations (HROs) will have long-term impacts on safety and health.

A great deal of work in this area has already been done and it has been exciting to see all the resources industries communicating and collaborating on the Brady report’s recommendations and how they can be implemented. I see Dr Brady’s report as an opportunity for the resources industries to commit to implementing HRO principles in their operations and continuing their journey towards truly being a learning industry.

Like so many other businesses, the resources industries have been significantly affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic in ways that not many people could have predicted even 12 months ago.

To the credit of the people involved in our industries, the resources industries have been at the forefront of the response to the pandemic because of their measured and competent response. I would like to thank everyone in the resources sector who has worked tirelessly throughout this time. As the scale and reality of the crisis became apparent, I was impressed to see the way that government, union and employers came together to quickly provide dynamic and flexible solutions that allowed operations to continue with a common focus on the safety and health of workers.

Since 1 July 2020, when my role transitioned from the previous Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health to the current Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health role, my small team and I have been working to ensure I am in a position to meet the new responsibilities of my role under the Resources Safety and Health Queensland Act 2020.

My overarching vision is for Queensland’s resources industries to be the safest and healthiest in the world. I aim to achieve that by providing impartial, independent and expert advice to the Minister on matters relating to protecting the safety and health of workers in Queensland’s resources industries and by monitoring, reviewing and reporting to the Minister on the performance of the regulator.

As this unprecedented year comes to a close, I want to thank the regulator, industry, and unions for your time, effort and contributions to ensuring every worker goes home safe and healthy at the end of each day.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Kate du Preez Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health

Last updated: 21 Dec 2020