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Minister says WA legislation “outdated” at safety conference

Western Australia Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion officially opened the Chamber of Minerals and Energy 2015 Safety and Health Conference today in Perth, quoting the “powerful thoughts” of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

“I believe that a commitment to safety must run much deeper than simply being a priority. Priorities evolve over time but a commitment to safety does not. A commitment to safety is a value that shapes all decision making at every level,” the Minister quoted.

“These are wise words from the leader of the world’s largest public oil and gas company, and it is unthinkable today, but it wasn’t so long ago that fatalities and injuries were accepted as a price of progress.”

Mr Marmion said back in the days of building some of Australia’s iconic sites, supervisors would simply use a tick and flick process – a process, he said, that deserves to stay in history.

“Industry and regulators have come a long way since then, there has been a long swing away from purely prescriptive workplace safety management to a flexible and resilient approach as evidence and risk-based,” he said.

“This is coincided to a shift in people’s attitudes to workplace safety. There is a clear recognition across the wider community, that people should be able to go to work, feel secure that their welfare is a top workplace priority and come home safely.

“My Department of Mines and Petroleum is a respected regulator and has moved with the times and seeks to be a leader in the field. It’s resources safety division is working with industry to create a resilient safety culture that gives confidence to workers, companies and the public that the mineral, petroleum and dangerous goods sectors are operating safely.”

Mr Marmion said the DMP was currently focussing on new resources safety legislation that will incorporate the best elements of the model work health and safety act, and the national mine safety framework.

“The current legislative structure with six different acts is not an efficient and effective way to achieve safety objectives,” he said.

“The move to a single consolidated act covering health and safety for mining, petroleum and major hazard facilities is not a new concept. It is already been implemented in South Australia and Victoria.

“West Australia’s current legislation is outdated, over-prescriptive and unneccessarily complex.”

Under the new legislation, the Mine Safety Inspection Act (1999), the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources Act (1967), the Petroleum Pipelines Act (1969), the Petroleum Submerged Lands Act (1982), the Dangerous Goods Safety Act (2004) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (1984), will all be consolidated into one act.

Mr Marmion said the DMP is preparing drafting instructions for the bill, which will be finalised late this year and should be introduced into parliament in early 2016.

“It is intended to be legislation from January 1, 2017, with transitional provisions to smooth the process,” he said.

“There is still much to do, but I am pleased we are getting much closer to a better, simpler and more effective safety regime in Western Australia.”

The CME 2015 Safety & Health Conference continues tomorrow.

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