Historically, the mining industry has had a high incidence of work related injury and disease, and of disasters involving multiple fatalities. It also faces OHS challenges far exceeding those confronting most other industry sectors.
Mine safety legislation can play an important role in meeting those challenges. Although regulation is never likely to be the entire answer, good regulation not only brings laggards up to a minimum legal standard, it also encourages, rewards and facilitates leaders in going beyond them. Bad regulation, in contrast, constrains good enterprises from taking the initiative to improve OHS, while failing to deter bad ones.
This book describes mine safety legislation in the “mining states” and analyses its strengths and weaknesses. It also examines the broader policy questions of how best to design, implement and enforce mine safety regulation.
It argues that substantial reform will be necessary not only in setting standards, but also in their implementation, if further OHS improvements are to be achieved. This implies substantial changes in the way the mine safety inspectorates go about their tasks: in how they administer and enforce the law; and in the circumstances in which they choose to prosecute. It also requires the nurturing of a degree of trust between employers and workers (individually and collectively) and between both these parties and the mines inspectorates, that has been substantially lacking in recent years.