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Pike River lessons must not be lost

Pike River lessons must not be lost

The Public Service Association says there are clear lessons out of the Pike River tragedy which must be taken on board in the move to set up a new health and safety agency.

An independent report into the mining disaster says systemic failures in the former Department of Labour and Ministry of Economic Development contributed to the disaster, and no individuals can be held accountable.

The PSA which represents health and safety inspectors says the report backs up the findings of the Royal Commission inquiry.

“This report repeats that mining inspectors were not properly resourced nor supported to carry out their duties and they had raised serious concerns which were not acted on by senior managers,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

“The system also promoted a very light-handed regulatory approach and placed too much trust that the company was doing a good job of meeting its health and safety obligations.”

Brenda Pilott says what is important now is that the lessons of Pike River don’t get lost in the current restructure of the health and safety inspectorate and the transfer later in the year to a new Crown agency.

“While the restructure does have a focus on better training and support and will see changes to management and reporting lines, there is concern that valuable expertise and experience will be lost.”

She says there are still a lot of challenges ahead.

“The move to a separate health and safety agency must ensure that robust systems and processes are in place, there is strong professional leadership and the level of resourcing will result in the high standards needed in strengthening health and safety regulation.”

No one wants to see the lessons of Pike River go to waste and that is where accountability should now rest,” she says.

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