Corporate OSH management architecture in the Australian coal mining industry

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Managing occupational safety and health is a substantial challenge for the Australian coal mining industry. Since the 1990s, the industry has made considerable efforts to improve its occupational safety and health performance, and the rates of fatal and other reportable injuries have declined. This decline in fatalities and injuries coincides with the development by mining companies of a variety of instruments, mechanisms and strategies that in combination form their ‘occupational safety and health management architecture’. Based on both qualitative and quantitative data, this paper examines the corporate safety architecture of five Australian coal mining companies. A key finding was the high degree of convergence of corporate safety tools and strategies to the extent that, ultimately, all five companies had a common architecture. This involved: agenda setting; systems, standards, rules and procedures; core arrangements (occupational safety and health risk management, investigation, major hazards and worker participation); behavioural and cultural change; monitoring, auditing and accountability; and the centralised provision of resources. The paper goes on to explore a number of positive features of this safety architecture, as well as reasons as to why this common architecture has contributed to a substantial improvement in occupational safety and health outcomes. It is also important to note that, in recent years, the rate of occupational safety and health improvement has slowed and perhaps even plateaued, and there have been divergent responses across mine sites. A number of possible explanations for these phenomena are explored.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalPolicy and Practice in Health and Safety
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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