PCBUs must engage with their workers on workplace health and safety matters, and have effective worker participation practices in place. This helps you to make better decisions and keep your people and workplace safe.

For mine operators, the Health and Safety at Work (Mining Operations and Quarrying Operations) Regulations 2016 (MOQO Regulations) place additional legal requirements around worker participation and representation.

Duties under HSWA

All mining operations (as defined in HSWA Schedule 3, Clause 2(external link)) must have effective worker engagement and participation practices in place, regardless of the size, location, hours of operation, or method of mining.

If the existing worker participation system at your mining operation was developed, agreed and implemented under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and was in force prior to 4 April 2016, this can continue. It is treated as if it were a worker participation practice under HSWA (see HSWA Schedule 1, Clause 16(external link)).

Your worker participation practices should be reviewed from time to time to ensure they are still effective – and updated when required.

Additional duties for mine operators

The MOQO Regulations place two additional requirements on mine operators:

  1. Mine operators are legally required to document worker participation practices (see Regulation 109(external link) of the MOQO Regulations.)
  2. Regulation 60(external link) of the MOQO Regulations specifies that the site senior executive must engage with mine workers and health and safety representatives (HSRs) about the content of the health and safety management system (HSMS) when the system is being prepared and reviewed.

Ensuring that mine workers, HSRs, industry HSRs, union or other representatives can contribute to the preparation and review of the HSMS improves risk management and builds a shared understanding of roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. 

Site senior executives must engage with workers when preparing and reviewing principal hazard management plans (PHMPs) and principal control plans (PCPs). PHMPs and PCPs form part of the HSMS and are required for managing principal hazards that could create a risk of multiple fatalities in a single accident, or a series of recurring accidents, at the mining operation.

Who is a mine worker?

A mine worker is a worker at a mining operation and includes contractors, subcontractors and their employees who carry out work at a mining operation. The definition of 'mine worker' relies on the meaning of 'worker' in HSWA, which includes contractors and subcontractors.

Additional functions and powers of health and safety representatives at mining operations

Schedule 3 of HSWA(external link) sets out additional functions and powers for HSRs and industry HSRs at mining operations. For example, an HSR has the power to issue a notice requiring a mining operation to be suspended or stopped if there is a serious risk to health and safety. 

HSRs must meet the competency and experience requirements specified in the regulations before they can exercise additional powers.

At underground coal mining operations, a union or a group of mine workers may appoint a person to be an industry HSR. Details of the appointment or cessation (removal or resignation) of the industry HSR must be provided to WorkSafe. WorkSafe issues an identity card to the industry HSR.

The functions and powers of the industry HSR are set out in Schedule 3, clause 19 of HSWA(external link).

Guidance about worker engagement, participation and representation

The Worker Engagement, Participation and Representation Good Practice Guidelines describe what WorkSafe considers good practice in relation to worker engagement, participation and representation.

These guidelines should be read by mine operators, site senior executives, mine workers, health and safety representatives, industry health and safety representatives, union representatives and unions involved in mining operations. The guidelines are designed to be read alongside Worker representation through Health and Safety Representatives and Health and Safety Committees Interpretive Guidelines

When reading the above guidance, replace the following words with the relevant terms:

  • replace 'PCBU' with 'mine operator'
  • replace 'work group' or 'members of a work group' with:
    • a group of mine workers who are represented by a health and safety representative, or
    • mine workers in a mining operation
  • replace 'business or undertaking' with 'mining operation'.

Worker engagement, participation and representation at other mining-related businesses

All mining-related businesses must have effective worker engagement and participation practices.

If your workplace explores for minerals, is an alluvial mining operation, a mining operation wholly on or under the seabed on the seaward side of the mean high-water mark, or a quarrying operation please refer to the following resources: