13th May 2020

The NSW Resources Regulator has published the results from its proactive inspection program which focussed on how mine operators were responding to the COVID-19 risks.

The inspection program, which has seen 178 inspections carried out across 87 different mine sites, generally found that mine operators had responded quickly and appropriately to risks posed by the virus and overall standards were high.

Chief Inspector Garvin Burns said that most operators had implemented appropriate controls, with only a small number of issues being identified which were largely minor in nature.

“Under work health and safety laws, employers must do all that is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimise the risks arising from COVID-19,” he said.

"Of the 87 mines inspected to date, the majority have demonstrated that they have implemented appropriate controls and are maintaining appropriate levels of supervision – with many able to demonstrate that they had comprehensive workplace controls in place.

“However, there were a small number of issues identified in relation to some sites not appropriately documenting their controls or completing risk assessments. These resulted in some improvement notices issued – but pleasingly the program has not resulted in the issue of any prohibition notices,” Mr Burns said.

The Regulator’s planned inspection program consistently observed that mine sites were:

  • educating the workforce on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and encouraging self-reporting
  • implementing health surveillance controls
  • putting into practice good hygiene, including routine cleaning of mobile plant and crib rooms
  • providing resources to allow practice of social distancing (i.e. providing more transport onsite to allow workers to be 1.5 metres apart)
  • allowing flexible working from home arrangements (where appropriate) and providing robust supervision arrangements onsite.

The Regulator will continue to monitor the implementation of controls through its proactive inspection program and mine operators are reminded of the need to remain vigilant to both COVID-19 related risks and the risks associated with mining hazards.

Read the full COVID-19 inspection report here.

Further details on the Regulator’s response to COVID-19, including the program assessment templates can be found here.