Just heard that Kate Wilkinson has resigned as Minister of Labour as the “right and honourable thing to do” as it happened on her watch. Indeed an honourable call.
- Setting up a new crown agency solely focused on health and safety. It would have an executive board accountable to a minister. It would be responsible for administering health and safety in line with strategies agreed with the responsible minister and should provide policy advice to the minister.
- Setting up an effective regulatory framework for underground coal mining. This would include establishing an expert task force to carry out the work. Its members would include health and safety experts and industry, regulator and worker health and safety representatives, supported by specialist technical experts.
- A change in the crown minerals regime to ensure health and safety is an integral part of permit allocation and monitoring.
- A review of the statutory responsibilities of directors for health and safety in the workplace to better reflect their governance responsibilities.
- The health and safety regulator should issue an approved code of practice to guide directors on how good governance practices can be used to manage health and safety risks.
- The health and safety regulator should issue an approved code of practice to guide managers on health and safety risks, drawing on both their legal responsibilities and best practice.
- An extension of the current regulations imposing general health and safety duties on the statutory mine manager to include detailed responsibilities for overseeing critical features of the company’s health and safety management systems.
- Worker participation in health and safety in underground coal mines should be improved through legislative and administrative changes.
- The regulator should supervise the granting of mining qualifications to mining managers and workers.
- Urgent attention needs to go on emergency management in underground coal mines. Operators should be required to have a current and comprehensive emergency management plan which is audited and tested regularly.
- An urgent review of the implementation of the coordinated incident management system in underground coal mine emergencies.
- Legislative support for the activities of the New Zealand Mines Rescue Service. The adequacy and fairness of the current levies imposed on the mines to fund the services also need to be reviewed.
- Operators of underground coal mines should be required to have modern equipment and facilities. This includes facilities suitable for self-rescue by workers during an emergency.
The Government has indicated it intends to implement at least most, if not all, of the recommendations but a formal response will take some time.
The Pike River explosion was deemed preventable, and we must make sure such a terrible accident does not occur again.