Pike River safety laws pass first reading

Legislation to tighten New Zealand’s mining health and safety controls has passed its first reading in Parliament.

The Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill was drafted on recommendations from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mining disaster which claimed the lives of 29 workers in 2010.

If passed it the legislation will establish a new agency, WorkSafe New Zealand, which will support the health and safety of the country’s mining sector.

The Bill’s key proposals include requiring all mining operations to have a documented worker participation system that covers all employees at a mine, TVNZ.co.nz reports.

It will see the functions and powers of health and safety representatives strengthened and enable the appointment of industry-wide health and safety representatives.

The Bill also includes extending the coverage of the Mines Rescue Service to include underground metalliferous mining and tunnels that are longer than 150 metres; and updating legislation to better reflect the Service's functions.

Last week Australian Mining reported a judge has ruled the trial of former Pike River boss Peter Whittall would be significantly compromised if proceedings went ahead in Greymouth.

Whittall is facing 12 health and safety charges over alleged failures relating to the November 19, 2010 gas explosion.

Proceedings will now be held in Wellington.

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