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Health and safety of miners to be improved

3 April, 2008
Health and safety of miners to be improved

Improving health and safety in the underground mining industry is the aim of a discussion document released today by Labour Minister Trevor Mallard and West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor during a visit to Runanga.

"The consultation document, Improving Health and Safety Hazard Management in the Underground Mining Industry, includes ten options for improving hazard management in the underground mining industry. Some of these options could be achieved by increased guidance or amending regulations, but others would require new or changed legislation," Trevor Mallard said.

"This Labour-led government recognises that underground mining is a hazardous industry and has one of the highest workplace injury rates of all industries. Good health and safety practices are crucial as people’s lives depend on them.

"Competency of workers is also essential, as the variety of engineering and geological hazards present in the underground mining industry make it a hazardous place to work.

"The consultation document encourages discussion around improving how hazards are identified and managed, and proposes ways to keep this consistent for both small and large mining operations."

West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor welcomed the document and encouraged miners to put their opinions forward.

"Miners work in dangerous situations and rely heavily on others when underground. The lessons of history have proven that unless we do our best to maintain the highest standards of safety possible, deaths will occur in this industry," Damien O'Connor said.

Mining industry participants are invited to provide feedback on the document including employers, employees, unions and mining companies. Submissions close on 6 June 2008. Depending on public interest, consultation forums may be held in some areas.

The Department of Labour will analyse the submissions, then propose solutions and consult with interested parties again to ensure the solutions work for everyone. The government will make final decisions at the end of this process.

The consultation document can be downloaded from the Department of Labour website.

ENDS

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