Mine workers urged to follow safety standards

A MINE safety consultant has warned that the resources industry risked a catastrophe of the scale of New Zealand's Pike River disaster if it cannot overcome the spread of complacency within the mining industry.

Mine Safety Institute of Australia director Mark Parcell, who has worked in the mining game for 20 years and lectures on risk management at University of Queensland, said the combination of a ballooning workforce for the past decade and the latest focus on production and job security in slower times was a formula for disaster.

To neutralise that risk, he said, workers needed to ensure they were following all safety standards.

With so many new faces unaware of the lessons learned from the Moura underground explosion in 1994 which killed 11, Mr Parcell said, Queensland was "statistically overdue" for a deadly incident.

"We need to make sure everyone understands their duties and obligations," he said.

"The risk is that the new people don't really appreciate the magnitude of the hazards they are exposed to.

"He also pointed to a spate of recent incidents which he said showed an increasing lack of respect for the dangers in the job.In late April a miner was fined $11,000 for smoking underground at the North Goonyella underground coal mine.

"Other incidents included a cloud of explosive gas moving around a mine after a change to ventilation and safety circuits being disabled on vehicles and underground machinery.

"Each one of these events has the potential to result in a disaster," Mr Parcell said.

The consequences of a tragedy - whether of one person or a group - is something Mr Parcell is also an expert in.He founded A Miner's Legacy, a support group for those who have lost loved ones in mining incidents.

Mr Parcell said it was not only the responsibility of government, safety inspectors or companies to ensure safety was kept up to scratch.

"I really think it comes down to an individual more than an organisation," he said.

"Even in a big organisation you can have a rogue who is intolerant of effective safety practices.

"It doesn't matter if you're the biggest miner in the world or a small contractor with one or two people."It's about your commitment to ensuring those safety outcomes.

"They all have a role to play."

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