LESSONS FROM PIKE RIVER
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ROWAN ANDERSON
• Legal Officer, CFMEU Mining and Energy Division (QLD).
Former in-house Solicitor, New Zealand Amalgamated Engineering,
Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU)
LESSONS FROM PIKE RIVER
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Background
Pike River
Report of the Royal Commission
Legislative and regulatory reform
History of disaster
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Kaitangata (1879) 34, methane explosion
Brunner (1896) 65, coal dust explosion
Ralph’s Mine (1914) 43, gas explosion
Strongman (1967) 19, explosion
Boatman #4 (1985) 4, carbon monoxide
Mt Davy (1998) 2, gas outburst
Pike River (2010) 29, methane explosion
Regulation
• First industry specific regulation – Regulation
of Mines Act 1874
• Lapsed 1897
• Rudimentary but provided for:
– Two means of egress
– Ventilation
– Mines inspection
Regulation…
• Coal Mines Act 1886
– Followed Kaitangata disaster
– Certification of mine managers
– Inspection of mines by representatives of coal
miners
– Right to refuse unsafe work
– Rebuttable presumption that accidents result
from negligence of owners and managers
– Prosecution of owners and managers
Regulatory developments - 1925
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Coal Mines Act 1925
Separate inspectorate
Appointment of Chief Inspectors
Minimum experience requirements
Provision of up to date mine plans
Coal Mines Act 1979
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Prescriptive regulation
Separate coal mines inspectorate
Worker inspections
Workman’s National Inspector
Represented the “high tide” of regulation in
New Zealand
• The result of at least 10 Royal Commissions or
Commissions of Inquiry
Health and Safety in Employment Act
1992
• Robens approach without mandatory worker
participation
• Lack of tripartite oversight
• “all practicable steps”
• Industry specific regulation – 1996 and 1998
• Codes of practice – not developed (ACOP)
• 2002 amendments to facilitate employee
participation
Other issues
• Inspectorate
• Inspectorate transferred to Department of Labour 1998
• Only one qualified inspector for underground coal mines.
• Generalised approach, lack of resourcing and industry
knowledge
• Mine Safety Review (2006 – 2009)
• Union push for reintroduction of check inspectors
• Strengthening of regulations supported widely (COP’s)
• Change of government November 2008
Coal Industry 2010
• Slightly over 5 million tonnes (compare Australia
approximately 500 million tonnes)
• 4 million tonnes from open-cut (16 mines)
• Remainder from 5 underground operations
• Approximately 1500 workers directly engaged
in production
PIKE RIVER
Underground
Significant issues
• Location and access (licence to develop granted
in 1997)
• Inadequate geological information
* Drift development delays and costs
* Shaft collapse (2009)
• Underfinancing for development
* Grossly optimistic presentation
* IPO – capital raising 4th occasion at November 2010
* several hundred $million, coal boom
* Production pressure
Continued
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Main fan placement
Ratio of ‘clean skins’
Management turnaround
Prototype equipment
Inadequate ventilation
Methane
The Inspectorate
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Lack of resource
Reporting structures problematic
No Chief Inspector
DOL policies on enforcement - negotiation
Regulation inadequate
No worker engagement
Company views unchallenged
Tag-board: The 29
Royal Commission
• Announced in weeks following disaster
• Appointments
– Justice Graham Pankhurst (Chair), High Court
Judge
– Stewart Bell, Commissioner for Mine Safety and
Health (QLD)
– David Henry, Former Commissioner of Inland
Revenue…
Royal Commission
• Terms of reference – December 2010
– Cause
– Practices used
– Search, rescue and recovery
– Regulatory requirements
– Implementation of laws and resourcing
Royal Commission
• 11 weeks of hearings between July 2011 and
April 2012.
• 4 ‘phases’
– Context
– Search and rescue
– What happened at Pike River?
– Policy aspects
Royal Commission
• Report back – 30 October 2012
• 16 primary recommendations
– Regulatory framework
– Statutory responsibilities
– Approved code of practice
– Worker participation
– Emergency management
– Mines Rescue Service
Regulatory Framework
• Expert task force
• QLD and NSW as best practice
• Specific Issues:
– Removal of “all practicable steps” from mandatory
requirements in regulations
– Statutory positions (including ventilation officer)
– Requirements for gas monitoring and ventilation
– Prohibiting placement of main fans underground
New Crown Agent
• Sole focus on H&S
• Responsibility for administering H&S
• “High Hazards Unit” (late 2011)
– Chief Inspector
– Three Inspectors
– Greater resourcing and inspectorate functions
Worker Participation
• Requirement for operators to have systems in
place
• Trained worker H&S Representatives
– Perform inspections
– Stop activities if immediate harm
• Union Check Inspectors
• Inspectors to routinely consult workers
• ACOP
Lost opportunity
• Exclusion of tunnels and quarries
• Work Safe Board – not tripartite
• Over emphasis on ‘checks and balances’ on
SSHR’s and ISHR’s
• ISHR – Limited to underground coal
Questions
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LESSONS FROM PIKE RIVER