Not all fine at NSW mine

A significant fine for a NSW coal mine should serve as a warning to other companies of the importance of protecting workers. Credit Albert Hyseni

Significant fine emphasises need for drug and alcohol testing in NSW

While it doesn’t relate to drugs or alcohol, a recent large fine for a NSW mining company should serve as a warning to all businesses to ensure they’re doing their utmost to protect all people within their workplaces. In many cases, this will include conducting drug and alcohol testing.

The fine to mining company Endeavour Coal of $400,000 was handed out by the District Court of NSW, due to a breach of section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

As reported in Australian Mining’s Safe to Work, the fine follows a serious incident at the Appin North Colliery in NSW in June 2019. An employee suffered serious, permanent injuries to his toes and foot when he became entangled in a conveyor.

The NSW Resources Regulator’s executive director Peter Day said the District Court of NSW’s decision emphasised the importance of protecting workers.

In the Safe to Work article Mr Day is quoted as saying, “Our investigation identified there were poor management and controls in place at the colliery, coupled with a poor handover to new team members. A number of documented systems of work designed to protect against the risk which eventuated were not implemented in practice.”

Drug and alcohol management and testing vital to protect people

If you’re an owner, manager or senior officer of a NSW workplace which is safety-focused, then managing drugs and alcohol, and conducting drug and alcohol testing, is imperative. It’s imperative to the safety of the people who work within your business, it’s imperative to the financial security of your company, and it could keep you out of jail.

While some incidents in workplaces resulting from safety breaches do result in hefty fines for the company, as in the above case, if there is a fatality where negligent conduct is involved, high ranking company members can also face jail.

As we’ve highlighted before in our blogs, new industrial manslaughter laws are now in place across most Australian states and territories. These laws mean that as an owner, manager or senior officer, you could face a lengthy prison sentence if your conduct negligently causes the death of someone on your work site.

By lengthy, we mean many years imprisonment. In NSW, the penalty can be up to 25 years in prison.

What can you do?

Statistics show that alcohol alone contributes to five per cent of Australian workplace deaths and up to 11 per cent of other injuries. In addition, it’s estimated that around $6 billion is lost in work productivity each year due to alcohol and drug misuse.

As part of a comprehensive occupational health and safety program, there is plenty you can do to protect your people, your business and yourself from the scourge of drugs and alcohol. For example:

  • Start by developing or updating your drug and alcohol management policy.
  • Provide education for your workforce on the details of the policy and the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
  • Support people who have issues with drugs and alcohol.
  • Implement drug and alcohol testing in your NSW workplace.


A significant fine for a NSW coal mine should serve as a warning to other companies of the importance of protecting workers. Credit Albert Hyseni

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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