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Safeguarding workers: a study of health and safety representatives in the Queensland coal mining industry, 1990-2013

Walters, David ORCID:, Johnstone, Richard, Quinlan, Michael and Wadsworth, Emma 2016. Safeguarding workers: a study of health and safety representatives in the Queensland coal mining industry, 1990-2013. Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations 71 (3) , pp. 418-441. 10.7202/1037659ar

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Worker health and safety representatives have been a significant element of occupational health and safety (OHS) systems provided for by regulation in many countries since the latter decades of the 20th century. There is, however, little recognition that this approach was pioneered in the mining industry in some countries nearly a century earlier, and it has been little studied as a result. It remains an important component of mine health and safety regulation in Australia. Drawing on over 1100 inspection records and 24 semi-structured interviews, this study examined the activities of both mine-site and industry-wide representatives. Key findings are that representatives focus their attention on serious hazards (especially fatal risks) and make cautious but effective use of their powers, including the power to suspend operations, staying within the boundaries of what is provided for by regulation and using this provision to offset the negative influences of a hostile labour relations climate, which is endemic in the industry in Australia. Overall, the study highlights the positive role representatives and unions can play in health and safety even in hostile labour relations climates.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Publisher: Department of Industrial Relation, Laval University
ISSN: 0034-379X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 September 2016
Date of Acceptance: 16 March 2016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 11:22

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