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Court refuses stay of enforcement action against former mine officials

12 May 2022

Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) has successfully resisted an application to suspend the effect of enforcement action taken against two former officials of North Goonyella mine, while an appeal of the enforcement action is underway.

The two former employees of the mine applied to the Industrial Magistrates Court to stay a decision made by RSHQ’s Chief Executive Officer in October 2021, to cancel their certificates of competency, following an investigation of an underground fire at the mine in 2018.

If granted, the stay would have allowed the former officials to continue to work in the safety critical position of underground mine manager in a coal mine, until their appeals against the decisions are determined.

In refusing the stay applications, Magistrate Nolan noted that the CEO’s decision followed an extensive investigation and contained findings of serious misconduct, which had the potential to result in injury or death to others who worked at or visited the mine.

His Honour said the former officials “were responsible for the operation of the coal mine in circumstances where the health and safety of every other person who worked at the coal mine was dependent on [them] doing their jobs according to the Act and Regulations.”

The Court also commented on importance of ensuring public confidence in processes designed to ensure safety in coal mines.

While the CEO’s decision about the conduct of the former officials remains subject to appeal, the Court’s decision highlights the high standards Queensland’s mining safety and health laws require of persons in safety critical roles.

“Mine workers depend on mine officials competently and conscientiously fulfilling the responsibilities the law places on them; the Court has clearly recognised this,” said Mark Stone, CEO of RSHQ.

The decision to cancel the certificates of competency relates to a high potential incident and underground fire at North Goonyella coal mine in 2018.

Last updated: 12 May 2022