Readers outside of New South Wales may vaguely remember that in 1996 four miners died in a coalmine in the Hunter Valley 0f New South Wales. They may also remember that the was some press about the prosecution of some directors of the mining company. It was one of those incidents and court cases that should have gained broader attention that it did.
As OHS stakeholders in Australia ponder the ramifications of the Government’s proposed Safe Work Bill, it is important to also ponder the legal legacy of the Gretley mine disasater. It may provide non-NSW and non-mining readers with a better understanding of the resistance to the new harmonised laws from the mining industry in both New South Wales and Western Australia.
On 15 October 2009, Andrew Vickers of the Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union used the Gretley saga as a justification to call for the harmoinised legislation and support systems to allow for variations to meet the special needs of the mining sector.
On the other side of political fence, Ken Phillips of the Institute of Public Affairs, a conservative thinktank, produced a document about the politics of the Gretley saga. The publication was supported by a video, available below. Phillips’ paper is a useful illustration of business’ opinions of the unions and New South Wales’ OHS legislation. This legislation is a centrepiece to the ACTU and union movement’s concerns and opposition to many elements of the current draft Safe Work Bill.
Prominent sociologist, Andrew Hopkins, has written about the OHS management issues raised by the disaster and its aftermath.
SafetyAtWorkBlog believes that these political and safety resources can provide a primer to many of the issues being discussed in the current debate on OHS laws.