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Mine company admits health and safety breaches

12 December 2006
Mine company admits health and safety breaches

The employer of miner Robert McGowan has admitted it failed to take all practicable steps to protect Mr McGowan, who was killed while at work in March.

Black Reef Mine Ltd today pleaded guilty to two charges brought by the Department of Labour under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to protect Mr McGowan and mine manager Gary Haddow, who survived the 8 March 2006 inundation at Tiller Mine. Six other charges against the company, and one against company director Shane Bocock, were withdrawn today in the Greymouth District Court.

Two other parties have also been charged in relation to Mr McGowan’s death: Mr Haddow and another defendant whose name has been suppressed. They will next appear in court on 8 February 2007.

Workplace Services Southern Regional Manager Sheila McBreen-Kerr said today’s guilty plea by Black Reef Mine Ltd was a huge step forward in the prosecution process. The reduction in the number of charges in no way reduced the seriousness of the offence or Black Reef Mine Ltd’s culpability, she said.

“The primary responsibility for Mr McGowan’s health and safety at work lay with his employer, Black Reef Mine Ltd, and by pleading guilty the company has today accepted that,” Ms McBreen-Kerr said.

“Under the HSE Act, the onus is on employers to identify workplace risks, take ownership of them and to manage them appropriately. Where they clearly fail to do so, they must be held accountable for these failures.”

Black Reef Mine Ltd will be sentenced at the completion of the other matters before the court.


ENDS

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