Officials overseeing the planned re-entry of the Pike River mine have already prepared a press release to be sent out in the event of an on-site fatality.
The Pike River Recovery Agency (PRRA) is currently working on a detailed plan for the proposed re-entry of the mine where 29 miners and contractors died after an explosion on November 19, 2010.
The agency has provided the Herald on Sunday with a raft of safety-related documents – including emergency- and crisis-management plans, and fire, explosion and use of helicopter risk-management plans.
The crisis-management plan covers incidents including "a major-level incident that may result in multiple fatalities and/or significant multiple injuries and/or trigger significant public interest".
It includes a prepared press release to be issued in the event of an on-site fatality, which starts off with the message: "This Agency is absolutely committed to safe work practices. Essential to this commitment is open communication about safety issues should they arise. For this reason, I want to make you aware of the facts surrounding the incident that transpired today."
The draft release – which has been described by agency boss Dave Gawn as a "example media statement" - would then feature a "description of the incident".
"The safety and security of our staff was our first priority," the release then continues. "We immediately activated our Emergency Management Plan, which was built in consultation with specialist advisors and local emergency services. This ensured the most rapid response possible.
"In spite of the best efforts by our first responders and St John paramedics we lost one of our valued employees. All of us are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and co-worker.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his/her family and friends during this most difficult time."
The release adds the Pike River Recovery Agency have "invested highly in all available safety systems for our Pike River Recovery operation, over and above those that are required for compliance", and says "we are committed to identifying all contributing factors and immediately implementing any remedial actions".
PRRA chief executive Dave Gawn told the Herald on Sunday the "example media statement" was prepared as part of the vast amount of work the government department had to cover off before any attempt to get back into the mine was launched.
"An outcome of the Pike River inquiry was that an underground mine emergency protocol was developed," he said.
"A level 3 emergency is when there is a fatality, so by law we have to have a crisis-management plan in place that covers this event happening. The example media statement in the event of a fatality provided in the crisis-management plan is simply that – an example."
The crisis-management plan was released via the OIA along with several hazard-management plans – including covering the use of helicopters and what should happen in the event of an explosion or fire.
The plans stress the agency has a "stated objective of zero harm" during its work.
Gawn said of the stance: "Twenty-nine men who went to work at the Pike River Mine on November 19, 2010, never came home.
"The agency believes every workplace should have at is core the processes to enable 'zero harm' – and our health and safety systems must be paramount in order to support this."