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Media Release

Wellington, 12 November 2012

From Tragedy Comes Opportunity

The Pike River tragedy has provided New Zealand with an opportunity that must not be squandered, Workplace Health and Safety Taskforce Chairman, Rob Jager said today.

Speaking just after a Taskforce public meeting in Wellington, Mr Jager said the terrible events that cost the lives of 29 miners would obviously affect their families and loved ones forever.

“All New Zealand has now borne witness to the terrible impact of workplace fatalities,” said Mr Jager. 

“And without diminishing this impact in any way I believe, as the Royal Commission has also identified, we must now look to how we change the workplace health and safety system to prevent such a tragedy occurring again – we must look to the future.”

Mr Jager said the Taskforce was in a unique position to be able to do this and was fully focused on ensuring that it not only incorporated the Royal Commission’s thinking into its own work programme but worked doubly hard to hear from as wide a cross section of the working community as possible.

“The alignment between the key issues the Royal Commission identified in the mining sector and what we in the Taskforce have also more widely identified is gratifying.

“Issues such as the role of directors, regulatory and structural reform, on-the-ground checks and balances and the development of a positive workplace health and safety culture are already on our radar.  I welcome the Royal Commission’s report both for the additional insights it brings but also for the focus it has provided on workplace health and safety issues,” he said.

“We see the Commission’s findings as a microcosm of a much wider set of fundamental system failures which have occurred over a long period of time which, collectively, led to the Pike River tragedy. 

“It is critically important we identify the root causes of these failings and then put measures in place to ensure that such disasters never happen again and at the same time help to drastically improving our poor workplace health and safety performance across all industries and workplaces.

“I am committed to ensuring the Taskforce makes meaningful, practical and impactful recommendations to government.  It is important that we learn from the past but focus on the future which is exactly what the Taskforce is doing.”

 

ENDS

For further information contact Robert Brewer (021) 505044
Editor’s note:  The Taskforce reports to government on April 30 2013.