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Tasmanian mine safety inspectors overworked

Editorial
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The results of an audit into the Tasmanian Mine Inspectorate are expected to show under-resourcing has compromised the effectiveness of inspectors.

The full audit report into the Mine Safety Unit and Office of the Chief Inspector of Mines for Worksafe Tasmania has been released this morning. 

This is the third such audit in Tasmania since 2009, with audits carried out in 2010 and 2012.

Recommendations made by the audit report were released in brief to state parliamentary members, including independent member of the Legislative Council Ruth Forrest.

Forrest took part in a select committee in 2009, the Mining Industry Regulation Legislative Council Select Committee, and said that the most recent audit reiterates many of the points made back in 2009.

“Our committee report noted that the inspectorate was under resourced, and recognised the challenges of getting skilled inspectors- you can’t just bring any inspector into a mining setting,” she said.

“One of the recommendations the committee made was that they look at using the expertise of other jurisdictions, and resource sharing, including human resources relating to accessing qualified and experienced mines inspectors and regulators between states and jurisdictions, and it appears that hasn’t happened.

“There has been some improvement since then, it was grossly under resourced at the time, but it seems they are still under resourced in terms of the demands of the workload they have.”

The latest audit has suggested that mining companies should cover the cost of appointing another safety inspector, and that a qualified coal mine inspector from interstate should be brought in every six months.

Three workers died in Tasmania during December 2013 and January 2014 at the Mt Lyell copper mine.

Mt Lyell owner Copper Mines Tasmania recently announced they would not reopen the mine, resulting in job losses for 300 workers, most of whom had been stood down on half pay since January.

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