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Investigation into Roa Mine fatality complete

21 December 2006

Investigation into Roa Mine fatality complete

The Department of Labour has completed its investigation into the death of a Greymouth miner in September, and will be taking no further action.

Workplace Services manager for Canterbury-West Coast Margaret Radford said the “sudden and unexpected” roof collapse at Roa Mine that caused Bernard Green’s death was not something the mine company could reasonably have known about or prepared for.

Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, employers must take all practicable steps to protect employees from known or foreseeable hazards.

“The Department’s thorough investigations have determined the death was caused by a number of complex factors acting in unison,” Ms Radford said.

Mr Green’s death was the result of a sudden and unpredictable collapse of the roof. The Department’s investigation concluded that a wide excavation put tension on the mine roof and pillars, and along with corresponding geological factors, the rock fall entered the level where he was standing. The mining method used by the company had been successfully employed for decades prior to the 8 September incident, she said.

“It is our conclusion that this tragic incident was not reasonably foreseeable and no one can be held responsible.”

The company had health and safety systems in place, and competent and experienced managers and employees, she said. A check by an elected health and safety representative of the worksite just hours before the collapse raised no concerns about the stability of the area.

Following the roof collapse, the company undertook extensive research to look at ways to prevent a reoccurrence.

Ms Radford said the victim’s family, union representatives and the Roa Mine operators have had the opportunity to comment on the Department’s investigation report, which would now be provided to the Coroner.

ENDS

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