South Australian mines and quarries are healthy and safe workplaces
The Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee (MAQOHSC) aims to promote high work health and safety standards to prevent injury and disease in the mining and quarrying industry within South Australia.
MAQOHSC is a tripartite Committee comprising of employer representation of major stakeholders in the State, including the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy, the Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia, SA Unions and the South Australian Government.
MAQOHSC is unique in undertaking a key role in creating and supporting mining and quarrying safety initiatives throughout the State. All initiatives align with the Committee’s strategic plan and include work health and safety research, education and training. However, a key focus remains on the prevention of long latency occupational dust related respiratory lung diseases such as silicosis.
Establishment of MAQOHSC
The Workmen’s Compensation (Silicosis) Scheme and The Silicosis Committee
In 1941, the Workmen’s Compensation (Silicosis) Scheme (the Scheme) was established under the Workmen’s Compensation Act Amendment Act 1938, an amendment of the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1932-1935. The Scheme was created to provide compensation for workers employed in specified industries and on processes involving exposure to silica dust.
The Scheme continued existence under the Workers Compensation Act 1971 (SA) and was administered by the Silicosis Committee.
The Workmen’s Compensation (Silicosis) Scheme continues as the Mining and Quarrying Industries Fund under the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 (SA) and continues existence today under the Return to Work Act 2014 (SA).
The Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee
The Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee was established under the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1986 (SA), continued existence under the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 (SA) and continues today under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA).
The Committee’s Functions
The Committee’s principal function is to oversee expenditure of the Mining and Quarrying Industries Fund to minimise injury and disease and promote work health and safety in the mining and quarrying industries. The Act provides that the Committee may utilise the fund for the following purposes:
- To promote and support practices and procedures designed to protect workers from occupational dust related diseases such as silicosis.
- To support education in occupational health and safety in the mining and
- To initiate or support research and studies into occupational health and safety that could benefit workers in these industries.
- To promote and support people or organisations working to prevent, alleviate, or treat the kinds of disabilities suffered by workers in these industries.
- To support any other kind of activity that could directly or indirectly improve occupational health and safety or assist rehabilitation of disabled workers in those industries.
The Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) provides the Committee such powers as are reasonably necessary to perform its functions. This includes the power to establish subcommittees and to engage, as may be appropriate, experts or consultants to assist the Committee in the performance of its functions.
The Committee is subject to the control and direction of the Minister for Industrial Relations.
The Committee’s Key Initiatives
- Initiate and support state-wide workplace health surveillance
- Eliminate airborne dust in all mining and quarrying activities
- Determine risk of workplace exposure to respirable crystalline silica
- Evaluate workers risk to contracting Occupational Dust Related Diseases
- Monitor workplace dust mitigation techniques and strategies
- Educate and promote workplace best practice dust mitigation strategies
- Evaluate and educate workers on workplace respiratory protection
- Initiate and support research, projects and programs that protect workers and improve workplace safety
- Develop and promote industry specific workplace safety resources
- Support, promote and educate on high risk diesel particulate matter
- Promote Work Health and Safety Management Systems
- Develop and promote positive workplace safety cultures
- Develop, support and promote workplace mental health initiatives
- Support and promote workplace health and safety education
- Monitor high noise and accompanying vibration
- Ensuring all are ‘fit for work’