Harassment a risk to miners' reputation

The global reputation of Australian mining is at stake with the industry falling short on safety, particularly for women, experts warn.

The "work hard, play hard" mentality, gender imbalance, power and control culture, and hierarchical structures happen in a lot of industries, Deloitte partner Kellie Properjohn tells AAP.

But the mining sector is in the spotlight after a damning Western Australian inquiry found the industry failed to protect women from sexual predators.

"I look at our global reputation," the former WA assistant police commissioner says on the sidelines of the annual Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie, where men vastly outnumber women.

"A lot of our mining companies are global, they're trying to compete globally, and what does that say to the world when we can't even protect our workers at work?"

She has co-authored a report with Deloitte cyber expert Luke Forsyth on physical, psychological, cultural and cyber safety, which they will launch on Tuesday at Australia's largest mining industry event.

The total financial cost of workplace sexual harassment to the Australian economy in 2018 was $3.8 billion, mostly from lost productivity, according to the report.

Mining contributed $110.5 million to that lost productivity, and an additional economic cost of $20.7 million.

"Many companies have the best intentions, many have given evidence to various inquiries saying sexual harassment won't be tolerated in the workplace," Ms Properjohn said.

Where they fall short is communicating what they're going to do about it, she says.

The Safety 4.0 report encourages regular reviews and constant clear communication with staff, who must be free to report breaches of all kinds without fear of repercussions.

"That whole feeling of safety extends to people being culturally included in their workplace, being free about their own identity and being accepted," Ms Properjohn said.

She said women, and young people, will be reluctant to join the industry without action.

"They're not asking for a lot, they're just asking for a few simple things for them to be able to do their job," she said.

"You hear about women coming into organisations but no one's bothered to buy the right PPE (personal protective equipment) that fits them," she said.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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