web analytics

Bring back check inspectors

Written By: - Date published: 12:31 pm, August 18th, 2011 - 30 comments
Categories: Mining, workers' rights - Tags:

Nats have announced 6 more DoL safety inspectors for mines and oil drilling. Up from 2 now (only one position filled). Sounds good but DoL’s failure at Pike River was systematic, not just about numbers. Where’s the stronger safety standards?

Why aren’t they bringing back worker-elected check inspectors? Senior miners, trusted by the others, whose only job is to watch out for safety. The miners want them. They used to have them. They have them in Australia. Why don’t the Nats listen?

30 comments on “Bring back check inspectors ”

  1. grumpy 1

    A good step forward. The Mines Inspectorate has been below par for many years now and a few deaths here and there have not been enough to push successive governments into taking action. A pity that it’s taken the recent tragedy to move things along.

    Likewise, I agree that “Check Inspectors” would be a good solution. Better yet, would be dismantling the whole DoL/OSH bullshit system and focussing on real safety – not “well documented” danger.

    • bbfloyd 1.1

      “successive governments” ? it was the last national govt that created the system in place now,, and the last labour govt that instituted an inquiry into how to redress the balance..the only govt that has ignored this issue is the one we have now. they had their chance to act on the findings of the inquiry in 2009, but for reasons i don’t need to go into, they decided to ignore the recommendations..

      does history stop at 2008 for you?

  2. grumpy 2

    Just pointing out – but Labour had 9 years to do something and with their relationship with the unions could easily have bought in check inspectors if they wanted to.

    The bigger issue is the DoL/OSH culture and how it cannot ensure true safety.

    • The Voice of Reason 2.1

      Labour didn’t have a relationship with the Miner’s union, grumpy. Like most unions, they were not affiliated to the Labour party. However, a few years ago, they amalgamated with the EPMU, in part to get the ability to lobby for changes like this.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      Not everything can be done all at one you moron and they did get round to having an enquiry which National ignored. Or would you prefer it if the government just did things without knowing what they’re doing?

      The bigger issue is the DoL/OSH culture and how it cannot ensure true safety.

      That’s no reason to dump it, we know, after all, that not having them makes work place danger even worse. This would indicate that the model needs improving but not dumping for a new untried model.

      • grumpy 2.2.1

        “….Not everything can be done all at one you moron…”

        9 years mate, is hardly “all at once”. Anyway, the gradual deskilling of the mines inspection regime was like a frog in boiling water – it needed a jolt to sort it out. It is interesting that most opf the expert comment has come from retired inspectors and Australians.

        This “dumbing down” of technical issues and the emergence of a theoretical H&S regime (OSH) has lead to the current situation.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1.1

          9 years of National government on top of the blitzkrieg of the 4th Labour government on the economy a hell of a lot needed fixing. Of course, the 5th Labour government was also still holding on to the delusional free-market BS. Still, not everything can be done at once and it’s possible (probable in many cases) that they got their priorities wrong and that, if they had done this, then people would be complaining about something else that they didn’t do.

    • They were slow but a review was in train, as this March, 2008 discussion document reveals.

      Here’s the press release that accompanied it. 

    • Bored 2.4

      Jeez Grumpy, we agree. The whole inspector fiasco begun under Shipleys term was never resolved during the Clark years (or for that matter the Key years). They are all equally guilty of inaction.

      • grumpy 2.4.1

        They are only probably guilty of not understanding the problem and thinking a few people on the West Coast were not a priority. Also, ‘Coasters are pretty “gung-ho” types so were unlikely to go on strike etc).

        Anyway, Pike River Coal were “experts” and regardless of what the inspectorate regime was, they had a duty to make things as safe as possible for their workers (it seems they did not).

  3. aerobubble 3

    When Peak Mine got the go ahead and the media declared the innovative new mine someone in government should have asked if the inspection system was up to tthe task. Not even the opposition did so??? This is how disfuctional our parliament is, its getting citizens killed. The first answer to the
    question would be what do they do in other deep mining areas, what is their minimum standard. again, this throws up the failure of media, media should have been questioinig from day one of the mine opening why this mine did not have a second escape. So let’s not point fingers, just recognize the third rate natur eof doing business in NZ. From the shonky leaky homes, to the lack of regulations of finance companies (SCF), the poor mining industry where the workers who lives
    are at risk don’t have a say in the inspector regime, or the victorian art deco on Christchurch buildings recognized to be a safety risk in earthquake, or the new homes built on liquidible eartquake
    prone land. Let’s not forget that if we did even the most modest basic analysis and not left if to the
    free market then it would not cost so much money to invest after the fact to put in place
    management and oversight systems that over time would lose money and be cut by the time the
    next mining disgrace, or earthquake exposing developer greed, or whatever.

    So let’s give ourselves a round of applause, third rate after the fact response, that already beginning
    to look half arsed (no miner choosing the inspectors). We’re NZ, its okay to die from poverty, abuse, or any poor regulated public or private sector funtion that disgraceful government gets away with.
    And why? Well no upper house, that would have demanded better, no CGT which would have been
    implemented with a upper house. Our 100~ senetorial chamber is a disgrace to our democracy.
    It even looks like an upturn toilet.

  4. In Vino Veritas 4

    Over 2km to the surface via the entrance, 160m vertical climb out escape shafts. Approved by the Labour party in 2004. All because they didnt want to go straight down to the seam in a National Park. Whoop whoop Labour. Wouldnt have made squat difference how many inspectors there were. These guys couldnt get out. And you guys are blaming National. Labour is absolutely culpable. Pity they arent investigated for their gross ineptitude now, they wouldnt be able to legistlate the issue away…

    • grumpy 4.1

      Very true – but Pike River didn’t have a gun to their head. If it wasn’t safe, they should not have proceeded.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        No, Pike River didn’t have a gun to their head. What they were doing was maximising profit.

        • grumpy 4.1.1.1

          True, but Labour made it a condition of the mining that if they wanted to carry out activity, miner’s lives were put at risk.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.1

            Nope, it would still have been possible to drill more escape shafts down from the top. Not doing so was a decision of the management.

            • In Vino Veritas 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Draco, what part of “it wouldnt have made any difference how many shafts there were” dont you get? Climbing 160 vertical metres in the dark (following a gas explosion that you are unlikely to have survived anyway) in a shaft filled with smoke and potentially flames would be pretty much beyond most people. The long entry to the mine was the main problem, plus it dipped along its length to get under the seam. If they’d gone straight down from the top, instant gas exit points. Mining is a risky business at the best of times. What Pike River was doing was mining coal, exporting most of it and yes, trying to making some money. They also employed a whole lot of miners, and if they’d made a profit, would have the taxes that keep moaning twerps like you in the money.

              A couple of questions. When was the last time you were down a mine shaft? How many people do you employ?

    • millsy 4.2

      Why do you hate our National Parks — do you really want to just dig them all up>

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        We could hire a few thousand young people and employ them to create a few new National Parks.

  5. ipso 5

    We have the equivalent of check inspectors now. They’re called HSE reps. I think you will find that trained reps have pretty much the same powers as check inspectors. HSE reps are elected workers who sit on H&S committees, can warn others about dangerous conditions (and lead to a refusal of work) and they can issue legal notices when management fails to act on hazards. Sounds like check inspectors to me. Moreover with the model allowing workplaces to determine their own systems, if miners wanted ‘check inspectors’ right now, they have the power to assert that and with the HSE reps model in place the powers are already in existence.

  6. Galeandra 6

    What do you mean in this post, Zetetic?
    DoL were systematic in their approach ie intentionally and therefore negligently contributing to the disaster?
    Or, like the miners, the victims of politically induced systemic weaknessses?
    To whom are you sheeting responsibility home?

    • grumpy 6.1

      DoL were responsible for safety – and they failed!

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        The DoL can only enforce the regulations that the government put in place.

        • grumpy 6.1.1.1

          Exactly, and if you go back to In Vino Veritas’comments above, the Labour Govt set the conditions (which directly or indirectly) contributed to the death of the miners.

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.1

            Check inspectors should not have been removed by National and they should have been brought back by Labour.

            Pretty damn simple.

            Waiting around for reports and recommendations is a shit excuse because time matters and a risky situation is rolls the dice every day, not just the day that things blow up.

  7. Bryan 7

    It all ties back to the flawed HSE Act. Mining is only one of the worst examples of a regime that puts little value on worker’s lives. Taken to together with the anti-regulatory mind set that dominates government & society, and pervasive ‘cost-cutting’, it’s a recipe for soaring death & injury rates in all NZ workplaces.

  8. In Vito Veritas 8

    I have an idea for all Bryan, you limp wrist. Mines should be closed forthwith since it doesnt matter how much they are regulated, there will still be fatalities. So close ’em. Then Bryan, there will be no deaths or injuries from mining. In fact Bryan, because it is impossible to regulate against generally stupidity, and by extension, people will be killed or injured because of their own stupidity, lets close down all work places and everyone can go home and make a nice cup of tea and watch a bit of telly wearing their red cloth cap. But then Bryan, we’ll have to regulate the home, since some dullards are stupid enough to kill or injure themselves at home, probably spilling burning hot tea down their lap and tripping over the edge of the rug in front of the fireplace. So lets close homes to stop this shall we Bryan? Lets bloody well regulate!

    I have no doubt at all, that if the miners felt it was that unsafe they wouldnt have gone down the hole. 20/20 hindsight is a bloody wonderful thing. if they didnt mine, they could go and cut down some trees, oh and there’s another dangerous way to make a living.

  9. KJT 9

    Lets not forget that around 100 workers are killed on the job every year. Many more are injured.

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Workers%27_Memorial_Day

    There are many jobs in New Zealand where safety regimes are subordinated to profits.
    It is not just mining where previous safety standards have been cut to compete.

    While I have every sympathy for a soldier and his family when they are killed or injured on the job.
    (Separate from any opinion about the rights or wrongs of them being there.).

    There are jobs in New Zealand, where the chances of being killed or injured are much higher than in the military.

    In the race to be the first politician to be the first to do something about mining safety, politicians should also be looking at all industrial safety. (Start with Korean fishing boats working for NZ companies).

    I don’t think check inspectors are the answer though.

    When we had the equivalent on the waterfront many were self appointed, obstructionist, political types, who had little understanding of what was really required to work safely..

    Needed are well trained independent safety specialists who are paid for only to oversee safety.

    OSH inspectors who have been recruited from within the industry and trained further in safety tend to be rather good.
    Unlike Maritime New Zealand, who recruit their accident investigators from the police force.
    AND whose motto is “Safety. At a reasonable cost”.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago