Alongside Western Australia’s move to modernise the Mine Safety & Inspection Act 1994 by potentially adopting the best provisions of the national model work health and safety legislation and the outcomes of the National Mine Safety Framework, the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) is also examining the feasibility and options for consolidating mining safety legislation with the safety and health legislation for petroleum and Major Hazard Facilities (MHFs). Submissions on the structure and how safety should be regulated in WA’s resources industry must be made by 5pm on 19 December 2014.

As an initial step the DMP is seeking stakeholder input on five options to structure the safety aspects of the legislation governing mining, petroleum and MHFs, ranging from fully consolidating safety elements into one unified Act through to maintain the status quo where safety provisions are housed across six Acts. 

The five options currently being considered are:

  • Option 1 – New Work Health and Safety (Resources) Act covering mining petroleum and major hazards facilities
  • Option 2 – New Work Health and Safety (Mines) and New Work Health and Safety (Petroleum, Geothermal Energy and Major Hazards Facilities) Acts
  • Option 3 – New Work Health and Safety (Mines) and New Work Health and Safety (Petroleum, Geothermal Energy) Acts with the safety provisions for Major Hazards facilities remaining in the Dangerous Goods Safety Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (or replacement acts)
  • Option 4 – New Work Health Safety (Resources) Act covering mining and petroleum with the safety provisions for Major Hazards facilities remaining in the Dangerous Goods Safety Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (or replacement acts)
  • Option 5 – No change to the current legislative regime.

Options 3 – 5 split the regulatory responsibility between Worksafe and the DMP with respect to the management of major hazards facilities.

Consultation will take place about any proposed changes to the substantive safety provisions for any of the three relevant sectors in the future.

Currently the safety legislation structure is spread across multiple Acts and regulations, sometimes involving multiple regulators and, in the DMP’s view, this hinders the consistent and efficient regulation of similar safety aspects across different industries, creates the potential for duplicated and inconsistent responsibilities and accountabilities and generates unnecessary complexities.

To assist stakeholders consider the options the DMP has engaged Marsden Jacob Associates who have prepared a consultation paper that outlines the options and provides information about related reform projects being undertaken by the DMP.  A stakeholder forum will also be held during November 2014.

Simon Ridge the Executive Director of Mines Safety at the DMP has encouraged all stakeholders to have a say on the proposals with a view to setting up the manner in which resources safety is regulated from a safety perspective for the next twenty years.  This consultation request has been described by Mr Ridge as being an ongoing process with the DMP and government expecting feedback being receptive to making changes and are open to alternate thinking on some issues. So industry should engage, review and have a say.