This Macarthur Coal photo shows work at its Coppabella Mine. Macarthur, based in Brisbane, announced July 11 that Peabody Energy and ArcelorMittal S.A. have submitted a takeover bid for a controlling interest in Macarthur.

Australia Updating Mine Safety Regs

The mining sector is a high-risk industry responsible for 2 percent of all serious worker's compensation claims and some of the highest injury and fatality rates nationwide.

Safe Work Australia will release model safety and health legislation for the country's mining industry on July 15 and has urged stakeholders to submit their comments about it. Mining is a major industry in Australia, and a dangerous one: It is responsible for 2 percent of all serious worker's compensation claims and some of the highest injury and fatality rates nationwide, according to Safe Work Australia, an agency of the federal government that is charged with improving both workers' safety and health and worker's comp results.

Along with the draft regulations, model codes of practice and a consultation regulation impact statement are being released. They support the Model Work Health and Safety Act, in conjunction with the National Mine Safety Framework (NMSF) -- an initiative of the Ministerial Council on Mineral and Petroleum Resources, which hopes to establish a nationally consistent health and safety regime in the mining industry.

"Regulatory reform is particularly important to the mining industry," Safe Work Australia Chair Tom Phillips said, "where the incidence rate of work-related injuries and fatalities is one of the highest of all Australian industries, with 2,395 worker's compensation claims in 2008-09." The industry employed 168,800 people in 2008–09, representing 2 percent of the entire Australian workforce, and accounted for 2 percent of all serious worker's comp claims during that period, according to Safe Work Australia, which said the latter figure represents seven employees per day requiring one or more week off work because of work-related injury or disease.

"These statistics demonstrate the importance of all work health and safety professionals and other stakeholders taking the opportunity to have their say in the public comment process. This will ensure that businesses and workers can understand these laws and they are effective in improving work health and safety outcomes," said Phillips. "Model work health and safety laws will ensure organizations can comply with one set of laws, regardless of the number of states or territories in which they operate. This will ease the burden on business owners operating across the country. The public comment period is a good opportunity for businesses, industry, and workers to express their opinions on key aspects of the mining industry."

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