October 31, 2008
Govt mine safety measures must include check inspectors - EPMU
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union welcomes the government's announcement that it will develop further measures to improve mine safety and expects that to include legislation for health and safety check inspectors.
The EPMU has been campaigning for the re-introduction of check inspectors, who would be democratically elected from frontline mine workers, for several years now.
EPMU acting national secretary and head of the union's mining industry Ged O'Connell says check inspectors are the best form of worker participation in mine safety.
"Underground mining is a dangerous job which requires all frontline workers to rely on each other and work as a team and when it's their lives at risk it's wholly appropriate that they get to choose one of their own to mind their safety.
"Nobody is more aware of the dangers and the need for proper safety procedures than the people at the coalface because they have the most to lose if things go wrong.
"That experience and incentive for decent safety procedures needs to be the driver for any further safety standards and the best way to do that is through check inspectors.
"We're also astounded that some submissions on this issue have opposed increasing worker participation. I'd suggest that anyone who would push such a position spends some time underground before they argue miners shouldn't have more say in decisions that could quite literally save their lives."
The EPMU represents 50,000 working New Zealanders including nearly every underground miner in the country.