MP pushes for more regulatory protection for miners

By Kate Shuttleworth

West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor is pushing for underground miners in New Zealand to be guaranteed the same regulatory protection as Queensland miners.

The bill proposed by Mr O'Connor comes after a recommendation from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of 29 miners at Pike River.

The commission recommended a regulatory framework for underground coal mining be set up urgently.

Frameworks used in Queensland and New South Wales were mentioned as best practice.

Mr O'Connor's bill calls for the Queensland Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001 order of council be implemented urgently.

The regulations in Queensland say a coal mine's safety and health management must provide the following basic elements:

- risk identification and assessment;

- hazard analysis;

- hazard management and control;

- reporting and recording relevant safety and health information and data.

Monday marks the two-year anniversary since the tragedy at Pike River mine.

Mr O'Connor said New Zealand miners deserve better regulatory protection and the fastest way of achieving that would be to follow the regulations used in Queensland.

"We all have to learn from the terrible mistakes that were allowed to happen at Pike River mine and take swift action to implement recommendations of the royal commission.

"Monday will be an enormously poignant day for the families, and the West Coast mining community. We all have a responsibility to honour them with progress on the royal commission's findings and recommendations," said Mr O'Connor.

Fellow Labour MP Andrew Little has placed a bill in the ballot alongside Mr O'Connor's. which could see senior management of companies charged with corporate manslaughter in events like the the deaths a Pike River.

The families of the 29 miners called for the introduction of the corporate manslaughter charge.

- APNZ

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