In October 2012, the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy presented its report on the disaster to Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae. The report highlighted a number of health and safety errors within the mine, and the failure of government regulatory authorities to inspect the mine effectively.
To improve New Zealand’s poor record in health and safety, a new Crown agent focusing solely on health and safety should be established.
An effective regulatory framework for underground coal mining should be established urgently.
Regulators need to collaborate to ensure that health and safety is considered as early as possible and before permits are issued.
The Crown minerals regime should be changed to ensure that health and safety is an integral part of permit allocation and monitoring.
The statutory responsibilities of directors for health and safety in the workplace should be reviewed 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.
Directors should rigorously review and monitor their organisation’s compliance with health and safety law and best practice.
Managers in underground coal mines should be appropriately trained in health and safety.
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. In the meantime, managers should consult the best practice guidance available.
Current regulations imposing general health and safety duties on the statutory mine manager should be extended 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.
Emergency management in underground coal mines needs urgent attention.
The implementation of the co-ordinated incident management system (CIMS) in underground coal mine emergencies should be reviewed urgently.
The activities of the New Zealand Mines Rescue Service need to be supported by legislation.
To support effective emergency management, operators of underground coal mines should be required to have modern equipment and facilities.