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Question: Port Pirie Lead Smelter Follow Up


The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:49): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question on the topic of safety concerns at Nyrstar's Port Pirie lead smelter to the Treasurer in his role as Minister for Industrial Relations.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Last sitting week, I raised with the Treasurer the ongoing safety concerns held by workers at Nyrstar's lead smelter in Port Pirie following several serious incidents and 'near misses'. I asked the Treasurer what action is being taken by Nyrstar and SafeWork SA in the wake of these incidents and if SafeWork SA are satisfied with the company safety procedures.

Since then, there has been another serious workplace incident at the lead smelter where a worker received, and is being treated for, serious burns, requiring his transport to the Royal Adelaide Hospital burns unit for that treatment. My understanding is that the latest incident is also currently under investigation. My questions to the minister are:

1. Is the minister satisfied that, despite at least two years of ongoing safety concerns, Nyrstar are doing all they can to improve worker safety at the lead smelter, given this latest instance as well?

2. Following yet another incident, will SafeWork SA and/or the government be taking further steps to ensure better worker safety at Nyrstar?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (14:50): I am sure the honourable member would join me and all members in indicating that all employers, including Nyrstar, can do better in terms of managing work health and safety issues. I am sure there are no employers in the state who would hold themselves out to be perfect with absolute guarantees. Those, however, where there has been a history of significant workplace incidents would appear to have more significant challenges which they need to meet.

In relation to the approach from SafeWork SA, I have taken the member's previous question, I think in the last sitting week, and sought advice from SafeWork SA as to what action they have taken, and I will update the request to SafeWork SA and provide a consolidated response to the member's two questions in relation to what actions they are taking. Suffice to say every serious workplace incident, such as the one to which the member has referred, is seriously investigated by SafeWork SA.

They may have already taken action of which they will be able to advise me when they provide a written response to the questions in relation to some of the previous incidents at Nyrstar. If that's the case, I am sure that will be part of the general response SafeWork SA provides to me so that I can share it with the honourable member and indeed all other members in the chamber.

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