New study inspects worker reps role in Queensland coal mines health and safety


The Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre at Cardiff University in Wales, UK, has conducted a news study investigating the role and effectiveness of health and safety representatives in Queensland Coal Mines.


According to the news release on CFMEU, the study specifically focuses on the experience of worker representatives in Queensland, but has implications for the health, safety and wellbeing of mineworkers everywhere.

Widely recognized as a dangerous industry which demands a strong emphasis on ensuring the protection of miners’ health, safety and well-being, the coal mining industry has had in place statutory provisions since early in the twentieth century to safeguard the role of worker representatives in having a direct role in inspecting mines and identifying site hazards.

The study used a mixed-method approach to review the evidence of the role and activities of these representatives. The team that conducted the study carried out and extensive review of literature including 473 ISHR reports, 50 SSHR reports and 605 government inspector reports written during the last 15 years in relation to a selection of Queensland coal mines (19, of which 12 were open cut and 7 underground mines) into a structured database, and used this database to analyse documentary evidence of the activities of worker representatives.

The study has identified a set of preconditions necessary for effective worker representation and consultation on health and safety, which was supported by studies previously undertaken in other sectors and countries.

These necessary preconditions include a strong legislative steer, effective external inspection and control, demonstrable senior management commitment to both OHS (occupational health and safety) and a participative approach and sufficient capacity to adopt and support OHS participative OHS management, competent management of hazard/risk evaluation and control, effective autonomous worker representation at the workplace and external trade union support, as well as consultation and communication between worker representatives and their constituencies.

To access the full report, click here.