Too many are dying in mining accidents
TOO MANY mine workers are being killed on Australian operations and too many of those are contractors.
In the past seven months alone, there have been eight deaths in New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania - less than half were in full time employ with the mine owner.
Queensland Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health Stewart Bell said there was no difference between Queensland and where the deaths occurred - all workers had a lesson to learn from the tragedies.
"December 2013 was the worst month in the Australian mining industry for a long time with four fatalities," he said.
"This continued tragic loss of life is unacceptable and immediate steps must be taken to stop it."
In early 2013, a contractor at a Mt Isa mine was killed after a load being carried by a crane came loose.
An industry-wide warning from Commissioner was published as the Department prepared to publish its findings from safety audits of contractor safety programs conducted across the state.
Mr Bell said contractors can sometimes be more vulnerable to danger, especially if their firms are smaller, because safety protocols may not line up with state legislation.
In the past 10 years, up to 90% of industry deaths involved contractors, he said.
Mr Bell said to avoid more deaths on mine sites, workers needed to make sure they were up to the job.
He said contractors must be competent, use the right equipment, know the proper procedures and be included in the mine's safety rules.
"Families should be confident that when a loved one goes to work in the mining industry, they will come home safely regardless of whether they are contractors or mining company employees," he said.
It has been a horror seven months for Australia's mining industry with eight deaths recorded.
Aug 2013: Contract electrician killed (WA)
Nov 2013: Contract operator killed in haul-truck crash (NSW)
Dec 2013: Contract operator killed on gold mine (WA)
Dec 2013: Two maintenance workers killed in 35m fall underground (TAS)
Dec 2013: Contractor maintenance worker killed at iron ore mine (WA)
Jan 2014: Contract loader operator killed on copper mine (TAS)
Feb 2014: Miner killed in rock fall (WA)