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Qld mine employees fear ‘losing their jobs’ for speaking up says report

Grosvenor coal mine workers
Coal mine workers

Resources workers are worried their employment will be terminated if they raise safety concerns.

A healthy reporting culture is far from reality at mine sites. This is the disturbing finding authorities reached after contacting up to 7821 Queensland workers.

Whistleblowers revealed their colleagues refrained from declaring work incidents because they feared job loss.

“Stop looking for someone to blame when something goes wrong,” one respondent said in the latest state of safety reporting culture in Queensland’s mining industry.

“As long as there is risk of workers losing their jobs they will report as little as possible,” another added.

“Pit supervisors [need] to [be] more receptive of hazard reporting and less belittling when responding with the person raising concern.”

Different informants disclosed various inequities in employer complaint handling processes. At least 32 per cent said their supervisors rarely visited work areas and gave inadequate feedback. A quarter had “low confidence” in leadership’s ability to “appropriately” address bullying, discrimination and harassment.

“Everyone is happy to report against management but dobbing a fellow worker in is a no no,” one of them said.

“Treat everyone the same whether you clean the toilets or in management,” another added.

“If coal mine workers see that when something is reported it will be resolved/fixed very quickly, they will be more confident to report issues as they can actually see that something gets done in a timely manner.”

Others suggested WorkSafe Queensland, Resources Safety and Health Queensland and other industry watchdogs should not punish proponents for reporting more incidents.

“It would be helpful if the regulator would improve consistency and not exhibit behaviours that appear to be negative towards sites that have a high number of high potential incidents (HPIs) due to a proactive reporting culture,” they said.

“The regulator should not consider HPIs to be a safety indicator. A safety indicator exists to be driven downwards, and the regulator should not do anything that encourages driving down HPI reporting.”

The sample survey audience included coal crew members (83 per cent), direct employees (60 per cent), contractors (21 per cent) and labour hire staff members (8 per cent). Eighty two per cent were male and 16 per cent female.

The following recommendations were made:

  • recognise workers who reinforce good safety behaviours
  • senior management should spend more time interacting with workers
  • keep reporting systems clear, easy, quick to use and accessible across the workforce.

Click here to read the full report.

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