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Inquiry lacks health and safety expertise

14 December, 2010
News Release

Royal Commission of Inquiry lacks practical health and safety expertise, EPMU

The EPMU is today calling for the appointment of a workplace health and safety practitioner on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River mine disaster.

“The explosions that killed the 29 men in the Pike River coal mine occurred in a workplace so the Royal Commission of Inquiry needs to have expertise in workplace health and safety from a worker’s perspective, not just a management perspective,” says EPMU national secretary Andrew Little.

“Justice Panckhurst will bring a legal mind to the inquiry and Stewart Bell has solid mining industry experience at a senior level gained in the Queensland mining sector.”

“The tax and electoral systems knowledge David Henry brings are not as relevant to the deliberations of the Commission. A working knowledge of industrial health and safety systems would be more appropriate.”

“What the Royal Commission lacks is a commissioner who can look at the evidence from such a professional health and safety point of view and ask the right questions about what all the men knew, or ought to have known, and what were the systems in place for raising concerns.”

“These aren’t just questions of health and safety policies and procedures, they are questions of workplace culture and they need to be understood from the experience of those doing the work, something that a person with a strong professional background in health and safety practice could bring to the work of the Commission.”

“At the very least the Commission needs to retain such expertise to assist the inquiry even if it is not as a commissioner.”


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