Clive Brown

Clive Brown

Former Minister for State Development

    Mines Safety Panel members announced

    21/01/2005 12:00 PM

    State Development Minister Clive Brown today announced the establishment of a panel to advise the Government on occupational health and safety matters arising out of the Ritter Inquiry into safety systems at BHP Billiton Iron Ore sites.

    The panel consisted of two representatives each from unions, the mining industry and government.

    Mr Brown also announced the appointment of two independent experts in occupational health and safety in industrial environments to work with the panel. They are Professor Andrew Hopkins from the Australian National University in Canberra and Mr Peter Wilkinson, on secondment from Britain’s Health and Safety Executive to the Federal Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources.

    Professor Hopkins was an expert witness at the Royal Commission into the cause of the fire at Esso’s gas plant at Longford in Victoria in 1998. Mr Wilkinson, who has extensive experience in the regulation of occupational health and safety, is project manager for the establishment of the Perth-based National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority, which started operation on January 1.

    The appointment of the panel and independent experts followed the release late last year of the two-volume Ritter Report into occupational health and safety systems and practices of BHP Billiton Iron Ore and Boodarie Iron sites in WA.

    The inquiry was held after three separate fatalities on sites owned or operated by BHP Billiton in May last year.

    Mr Brown said the panel would advise on changes needed to the safety regulatory regime in the minerals industry, as recommended by the Ritter Report, and other matters the panel agreed would further improve the health and safety regime in the resources sector.

    “Our goal is to ensure we have a world-class safety regime and inspectorate for the resources sector in Western Australia,” he said.

    “The panel will meet with Professor Hopkins and Mr Wilkinson and work with them to develop a plan to help achieve that goal.

    “It will include advising on the appropriate roles and responsibilities of the inspectorate functions of the Safety and Health Division of the Department of Industry and Resources.

    “It will also make recommendations on the skills necessary to achieve a world-class occupational safety and health regime in the resources sector and how those skills can best be acquired and retained.

    “These recommendations will address mine safety, dangerous goods, major hazard facilities and onshore petroleum safety.”

    The Minister said other aspects the panel would consider included identifying impediments to the recruitment and retention of inspectors and the resources - both human and financial - the inspectorate needed to carry out its responsibilities.

    The panel would also identify strategies to enhance the role of mining safety and health representatives at mine sites and the interaction between them and inspectors.

    Mr Brown said the panel would provide an interim report on the first stage of its work by the end of April.

    The second stage of the work would involve the panel examining and providing findings and recommendations on changes needed to further improve the Mines Safety and Inspection Act and Regulations.

    The members of the panel will be:
    • the director general of the Department of Industry and Resources, Dr Jim Limerick, or his nominee;
    • the director general of the Department of Employment and Consumer Protection, Brian Bradley, or his nominee;
    • two nominees of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy, Nicole Roocke and Reg Howard-Smith; and
    • two nominees of Unions WA, Gary Wood and Dave Robinson.
    Mr Brown said he had also received an action plan from BHP Billiton that addressed each of the Ritter Report recommendations relating to the company’s operations.

    He expected the plan would be released soon.

    Minister's office: 9222 9699