New Zealand mining jobs at risk if safety regulations not upheld

Industry representatives from the mining, quarrying, and contracting sectors are calling for site managers to renew competency certificates or risk losing their jobs.

One of the major topics to be discussed at this week’s Quarry New Zealand annual conference will be industry competency certificates for site managers, with representatives from all three sectors urging site managers to meet new health and safety guidelines by the end of this year.

Smaller operators are potentially at higher risk than larger ones if their certificates are not renewed by December 31, according to The Marlborough Express.

The Institute of Quarrying NZ (IOQNZ), Aggregate and Quarry Association (AQA), Civil Contractors New Zealand, and Mining/Extractive Health and Safety Council (MinEx) warn that jobs of those who have not met the new requirements are at risk if certificates are not renewed.

Up to four new unit standards are required for Certificate of Competence (CoC) holders under legislations set in December 2014.

Concern about the availability and quality of certificate training was raised by quarry managers at a WorkSafe workshop.

Approximately 40 per cent of individuals undertaking the B grade certificate – a requirement for managers of small quarries or open cast mines – failed the final oral exam.

Chris Baker, MinEx chairman said, “We had a one-year extension this year but WorkSafe has made clear there will be no further extension. Frankly we are not seeking one either. People have to get up to speed on the new health and safety competencies.”

However, Institute of Quarrying NZ board chairman Les Ward expressed his concern over the effect it could have, particularly on smaller producers in the quarry sector.

“We don’t have a surplus of trained A and B Grade CoC holders. We could see some smaller quarries, in particular, closed as a result,” he said.

Losing the supply of aggregate material, especially from smaller producers, is also one of the main concerns associated with the certificate renewals.