New Mining Legislation in NSW

A rundown of the new NSW Mining Legislation

Riskology have provided a great summary of the changes to NSW Mining Legislation. Originally published here: 

Did anyone notice the new kid on the block? The new NSW Mining legislation?

Like a low flying duck they flew pretty much under the radar, but is the new and improved WHS Act and Regulation for the mines in NSW mutton dressed as lamb or is it really the beez kneez?

I’ve been working through this legislation for a few clients since it made its debut in February 2015 and I just need to put it out there, I’ve been in full nerd zone with lots of ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’ at the curls they’ve thrown in there. I don’t know if it’s good or bad to say this but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting my teeth stuck into this new legislation..

So what’s different with this new kid on the block?
(note this summary is focused on coal mines in NSW who conduct mining, not explorative)

  • You can have more than one statutory function but you can only have one each of the primary statutory function roles if it’s at the same mine.  This one isn’t a problem unless you run a large mine with more than one of each of these primary roles.
  • Statutory function roles must hold a certificate of competency, and each person is responsible for maintaining their own competency.  The Department of Trade and Investment (DTI), the Regulator, holds a register of all the certificates and there’s a good summary of the qualifications required on the DTI website.
  • Site SHR (SSHR) are elected a bit like your standard health and safety. You can also have electrical SHRs (ESHR) who can only exercise their role for electrical related issues and risks.  There’s a 5-day course that these staff need to go through, the Department of Trade and Investment point you to the WorkCover NSW course, although it’s not mine focused. Hopefully there will be a mine focused 5-day course soon as it could become quite confusing for the SSHRs, once they’ve done the training they can direct workers to cease unsafe work and issue Provisional Improvement Notices (PINs)
  • Records of PINS need to be stored
  • Mine SHR (MSHR) is the plural of a flock of geese – no just kidding, it’s the plural of Site SHR and Electrical SHRs. There’s a new one for trivia night! 
  • Check Inspectors are now called Industry SHR (ISHR)– note they can’t issue PINs if there is a Site SHR or Electrical SHR for the mine. They get nominated by the union and appointed by the regulator. They must compete the same training as Mine SHRs before they can be appointed or issue PINS (if they meet the criteria to issue PINs), there is a 12 month grace for the training up to the end of January. Clear as mud!
  • Colliery holdings term has disappeared
  • A SSHR or ESHR can give the mine operator seven days notice to conduct an inspection. If the inspection finds noxious or flammable gas hazards, self heating coal or other self heating material or another condition where there is a danger it must be reported by the Mine Operator to the Regulation.
  • Regarding incidents you need to check out the serious incidents and dangerous occurrence definitions in the Act. You need to report it by the ‘fastest possible means’.  There’s no 24 hour timeframe now.
  • When preserving the scene after a notifiable incident, if the inspector wants to release the scene early to you, the inspector needs to have consulted with the ISHR first.
  • Contractors need to either review the mines system and give in writing that their system complies, or the mine reviews the contractors system and gives, in writing, the big tick. There’s a breather for the first nine months for compliance with this one. Interesting that contractors that are exempt are deliveries, office equipment servicing, office cleaning and catering businesses. It’s also interesting to note that it applies to ‘mining operations’ – mining operations is defined as ‘activities carried out in connection with mining activities at a site, or at a site adjoining or in the vicinity of a site, at which mining activities are carried out’. It’s not 100% clear if office only contractors could fall into this, it depends on how you interpret ‘mining activities’.
  • Regarding change of shifts  you need the supervisor who is outgoing to give the incoming supervisor all the WHS related information, such as hazards. This needs to be documented in either hardcopy or softcopy, so email is sufficient. The incoming supervisor then needs to document that this has been communicated to workers, then acknowledge to the outgoing supervisor that it has been communicated. Then repeat and repeat and repeat at every shift.
  • With high risk activities you now need to notify the regulator, not ask for approval. So check out the notification, or waiting periods required after notification
  • Principal mining hazard management plans – yes it’s a mouthful – can be combined with the principal control plans. There’s a heap of requirements for these, check out the schedules at the back of the regulation for details, there’s quite a bit in there for seismic activity that’s not only required for underground but open cut also.

There’s also a decision you need to make if you are going to update all your jargon in your WHS documentation to the new and improved jargon in this new legislation – such as OHS to WHS etc, we may have a 30 year marriage with this girl, so keep that in mind divorces are costly.

If you’d like to discuss the mining legislation update further, drop us a line, we love talking shop!

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