In response to the article published online on Monday, 6 January 2014 (Western Australia’s Department of Mines and Petroleum – regulator or joke, by Mervyn Sher), the Department of Mines and Petroleum would like to clarify some of the information published.
Department of Mines and Petroleum Director General Richard Sellers said the views expressed in the article were personal opinions of the author and the department was not contacted in any way to check the validity or merit of the author’s comments.
Sellers said Simon Ridge had been with the department for a total of 16 years and had been the central figure over the past three years driving changes to safety in the mining industry.
"His persistent efforts to implement the Reform and Development at Resources Safety strategy, which supports cultural change across industry, were recognised nationally by industry with the 2012 Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy's (AusIMM) Jim Torlach Health and Safety award," he said.
As the lead regulator for safety in the resources sector, the department is working constantly with industry to ensure that ‘resilient’ safety cultures are the norm, and that best practice standards are adopted across the sector.
WA’s approach to mine safety places the onus on operators to demonstrate an understanding of the hazards and risks of their workplace and to demonstrate that they are operating as safely as possible.
The inspectorate has a wide range of highly skilled inspectors who have extensive industry experience, including mining, electrical, structural, mechanical and geotechnical engineering, process engineering, mechanical and electrical tradesmen, occupational health and safety, occupational hygiene and radiation health.
Ridge is also a qualified geologist and mining engineer with a 1st Class Mine Manager’s Certificate of Competency who holds post graduate OHS qualifications.
Added to this, Ridge also has some 37 years industry experience, including underground mining in Africa, before working in WA in the Pilbara and the Goldfields. He joined the DMP as a District Mines Inspector for 13 years before he moved to South Australia as the Manager of Major Hazard Facilities and Mining and led the SA’s most significant incident investigation.
He relocated to WA and the DMP as the State Mining Engineer in 2003.
"Strong leadership to drive the continued to work that ensures WA mine sites have the guidance and regulation they need to operate safely remains a key focus of the ongoing recruitment program for the RADARS program," Sellers said.
During 2013 this team of specialists conducted 2478 site visits, inspections and safety presentations across WA’s mining sector. In that period the department issued 121 Prohibition Notices, 684 Improvement Notices, investigated 59 serious incidents and conducted 198 audits. Also as a part of the inspectorate’s engagement with industry 1455 Safety and Health Representatives were also contacted.
In the same period, the department had three successful prosecutions, one subject to an appeal and one unsuccessful prosecution, with a further three prosecutions on foot.
There are a further 11 pending prosecutions and another four investigations underway.
Safety in a workplace is paramount and the ultimate cost of not improving safety is very high.