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Fitness for Duty: Scoping Study

Underground » Health and Safety

Published: April 01Project Number: C10006

Get ReportAuthor: David Cliff, Carmel Bofinger, Elizabeth Mahon, Katheryn Heiler | QMC, SIMTARS, ACIRRT

Fitness for duty is a key occupational health and safety issue. The concept of fitness for duty covers a broad range of individual and occupational health issues including the use of drugs, alcohol, fatigue, psychological impairment and physical impairment. These issues are the subjects of regulation under the Coal Mining Safety Act 1999 in Queensland and some are also under scrutiny in NSW where the regulations are being reviewed.

ACARP commissioned Dr David Cliff of the Queensland Mining Council to manage a project to identify the issues and research needs for the determination of Fitness for Duty in the Coal Mining Industry. Technical expertise was principally supplied by: SIMTARS, Ms Carmel Bofinger, Manager and Ms Elizabeth Mahon, Research Scientist; and ACIRRT at the University of Sydney, Ms Kathryn Heiler, Senior Analyst. Other experts were consulted and three specialist reports were commissioned relating to fitness for duty testing and potential legal issues.

Information was collected through interviews with mine personnel, industry experts, government bodies, mining industry bodies, equipment and service providers, researchers and OHS managers from other key industries relevant to the mining industry. Whilst the focus was the Qld and NSW coal industry a selection of metalliferous and extractive industries throughout Australia were also interviewed in order to gain a better idea of the overall position and emerging issues and trends. Over 80 interviews were carried out. This included 18 open cut coal mine sites, 14 underground coal mine sites, 15 metalliferous mines, 9 corporate mining offices and 3 major mining contractors as well as a range of mining industry bodies, government mines departments, union representatives, technical experts, service providers and other relevant industries, including, petroleum, power, metals refining and transport.

Relevant literature was also consulted.

This report outlines the findings of the project. Chapter 1 is the summary of the report and contains the conclusions and recommendations. The history of fitness for duty in the mining industry and its current context is outlined in chapter 2. Chapter 3 details the experimental procedures adopted in obtaining and analysing the information. The contents of current fitness for duty policies at the mine sites interviewed were investigated in chapter 4 as were issues not being addressed. Chapter 5 focuses on the issues associated with drugs and alcohol. Generic fitness for duty testing systems are evaluated in chapter 6. Chapter 7 deals with the issues surrounding, physical impairment, psychological impairment and fatigue. The potential legal issues are outlined in chapter 8. Chapter 9 then describes the other issues raised during the interview process.

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