Business

Mine safety report accuses organisations of rushing courses

TRAINING firms cashing in on demand for mining jobs may be putting workers' lives at risk by cutting corners when awarding qualifications.

The claim follows accusations in a Queensland Department of Mines mine safety report which warned some organisations rushed through classes or cut down course lengths under pressure from mining companies.

That same report described the 2011-12 financial year as potentially the most dangerous 12 months on mine sites since new safety laws were introduced in 2001.

Compared to the year before, there were more injuries, more time needed to recover from disabling accidents and more workers who needed medical attention from incidents.

Chief mine inspectors Gavin Taylor and Rob O'Sullivan said in report mine firms were hiring untrained workers "due to poor or even non-existent management of the training process".

"The fall in productivity and the increase in incidents can both be traced back to either a lack of training or ineffective training," they said.

Even with safety figures showing more incidents, Queensland's mining industry is still amongst the world's safest.

Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health Stewart Bell told APN workers needed to be thoroughly trained and properly mentored before heading to sites.

Mr Bell said he had dealt with registered training organisations - or RTOs - after they were suspected of providing poor training.

But until new nation-wide mine safety legislation is put in place next year, the department will have to refer concerns to the Australian Skills Quality Authority which regulates training firms.

These regulators only act if complaints are made.

Since July 1, when it took over control, ASQA has received no substantiated complaints about the more than 34 resource training firms in Queensland.

Before that time, the Department of Training and Employment was in charge of regulation.

It received less than 10 complaints in the period covered by the 2011-12 report which resulted in one firm voluntarily surrendering its licence.

DETE would not reveal further details due to privacy restrictions.Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union safety representative Greg Dalliston told APN earlier in the week of companies trying to push trainers to work faster so workers could begin sooner.

Mr Bell said despite the scale of the industry, which grew by almost 20,000 in the past 12 months, mining companies could strongly punish sloppy trainers.

"If you have an RTO doing the wrong thing, the companies just shouldn't use them," he said.

The Queensland Resources Council said mine companies often tested qualifications delivered by RTOs, but had to be entitled to trust a person's training.

Mr Bell said his department worked with industry and trainers as a matter of course to encourage best practice.

It would also keep working closely with Department of Training and ASQA to deal with substandard RTOs.

Topics:  mine safety, mining jobs, queensland department of education



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