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OSH: Investigation into explosion at Pike River coal mine

MEDIA STATEMENT

25 November 2010 Investigation into Pike River Coal Explosion

The Department of Labour has begun an investigation into the explosion at Pike River coal mine.

The investigation will be carried out under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 which requires employers to take all practicable steps to provide a safe workplace. Under the Act the Department has up to six months to investigate an incident and to bring any charges.

"This is a terrible tragedy for the family of those who have lost their lives, for the West Coast community and for New Zealand," says the Department's Acting Deputy Chief Executive Workplace, Lesley Haines.

"We will be trying to find out what led to the accident, whether anything could have been done to prevent it and what steps could be taken to prevent a similar incident in the future.

"This will be the largest health and safety investigation ever undertaken by the Department and we will be co-operating with the Police, the company and the Coroner to minimise disruption for witnesses.

"Planning for the investigation started at the weekend and the Department has eight staff deployed on the West Coast, two of whom are experienced technical mining experts.

"We have appointed a highly experienced Investigation Manager who is gathering an investigation team around him now. We will also be sourcing experts in New Zealand and offshore to assist with the investigation."

Pike River Coal is a large operator in a hazardous industry and the Department of Labour has had regular engagements with the company since its inception.

Our investigation will be comprehensive. It will involve a scene examination, a review of all the information that's been gathered since the explosion and extensive interviews.

This investigation is a formal, legal process and this means limited information can be released while this is ongoing.

ENDS

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