Qld mining deaths 'no aberration': expert

THE six deaths recorded in Queensland mining over the last 12 months is "not an aberration", a leading health and safety expert says.

David Cliff, a former health and safety advisor to the Queensland Mining Council, said the current figures - "the highest we've had in about 20 years" - fly in the face of modern standards.

"To get one or two may be an aberration," Professor Cliff said.

"To get six is not an aberration."

Early on Sunday, Jack Gerdes became the sixth mining death in the state in 12 months after he was fatally injured at the Baralaba North Coal Mine in central Queensland.

The experienced mining operator was found on the stairs of the excavator with injuries to his head, face and limbs.

It's believed the 27-year-old got caught between the body of the excavator and the safety rails of the stairs.

His death has prompted crisis talks between the state government, the mining industry and unions, and a review into fatal coal mine incidents would be expanded to include mineral mine and quarry incidents since 2000.

Professor Cliff, from the Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, believes the number of mining fatalities should be zero.

"They should all be avoidable, with our current level of mature safety culture and effective systems," he told AAP.

But he said the industry is changing.

"We are going to ever-smaller numbers of people on mine sites, because of high degrees of automation and larger machinery," he said.

"That means there are fewer people around to keep an eye on things.

"The people on the mine sites are required to do more and more tasks of different sorts."

Prof Cliff said blaming the spike on the failure of the government's Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee to meet for the last four months, due to being unable to meet its gender quota, is "drawing a very long bow".

He was also doubtful fatigue was a factor and said a CFMEU call to stop work for 24 hours could "jar everyone back into reality at all levels of the mine site".

"You need to be eternally vigilant," he said.

"The key to fixing things is to predict the precursor events or situations before they become an accident.

"We need to get a really good reporting culture with no fear of blame. If someone does something wrong, we don't want them not reporting it because they're afraid to lose their job."


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