NSW Trade and Investment has ordered an indefinite suspension of production at the Werris Creek Open Cut Coal Mine, operated by Whitehaven Coal Ltd, near Tamworth.

The Department was made aware of poor safety practices and bullying of employees by mining supervisors.

An investigation by the Department’s safety inspectors found several practices at the coal mine were or were liable to shortly become dangerous to the safety or health of employees at the mine. The safety inspectors determined that production should cease until such time as the  unsafe practices have been adequately addressed.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released its 2010-11 Annual Report, summarising the year's activities and highlighting a number of areas of continuing concern for transport safety.

Safe Work Australia has released two reports on the risks and health effects of printer particle emissions in the workplace.

The Queensland Government has announced it will regularly audit the employment-related provisions in contracts for State Government-funded construction projects to help ensure ‘sham contracting’ does not take root in the Queensland construction industry.

The audits were among several recommendations contained in the report of the Industry Reference Group on sham contracting ordered by Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick.


Mr Dick said the Industry Reference Group had found no evidence of systemic ‘sham contracting’ practices on Queensland worksites.

“However, the group recommended a high level of vigilance to ensure the practice does not creep in, and this is why we will be implementing all the recommendations in the report.”

Building Minister Simon Finn said employers who use ‘sham contacts’ to avoid paying superannuation and recreation and sick leave will not be tolerated.

“Unscrupulous employers can also use the practice to avoid paying workers’ compensation premiums which could ultimately undermine the viability of the scheme.

“This is why we will be keeping a close watch on industry contracting practices to ensure they remain fair and equitable for workers.

The Department of Public Works will introduce a regular auditing process of the industrial relations provisions in selected major projects in early 2012.

The IRG report, carried out by senior union and employer representatives and industry experts, recommended:
• the government undertake a formal review of employment-related provisions in contracts for government-funded construction projects
• ensure compliance with industrial relations obligations on Government funded projects
• undertake an audit program on significant construction projects
• liaise with the Commonwealth Government via the Fair Work Ombudsman and Australian Tax Office to ensure that building and construction industry workers are receiving their proper superannuation entitlements
• establish a Project Monitoring Group to provide industry stakeholder input into the implementation of the IRG report recommendations.

Mr Dick said the report, which had the broad support of the industry, would enable employers to be aware of their responsibilities and assist in protecting Queensland workers from unscrupulous employers.

The Industry Reference Group included: the Australian Workers Union, the Builders Labourers Federation, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union; employer groups including the Housing Industry Association and the Master Builders Association; the Queensland Workplace Rights Ombudsman; and related Queensland Government agencies.

More information about the Industry Reference Group’s recommendations can be found at www.justice.qld.gov.au.

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