Inspector appointments 'reassure miners'

3:48 pm on 20 December 2011

The Pike River Families Committee says the appointment of mine inspector roles will give the kind of safety reassurance needed for miners still working underground.

The Department of Labour's High Hazards Unit has been appointed, with three mine inspector roles filled and the chief inspector of mines for Queensland, Gavin Taylor, seconded to take on the acting chief mines inspector role while a search for a full-time candidate continues.

Mr Taylor says he is prepared to close mines in New Zealand if their safety systems are not up to standard though he would rather help mine owners get things right first.

He says developing best practice legislation is a priority for the New Zealand industry and he will look at what the industry in this country can learn from Queensland and other overseas mines.

Mr Taylor says he will assist in placing a permanent chief inspector of mines and ensuring there will be competent personnel to conduct inspections and audits.

The spokesperson for the Pike River Families Commmittee, Bernie Monk, says he is pleased the Labour Department did not wait for the conclusion of the inquiry into the Pike River mine disaster and the deaths of 29 workers in November last year to make the appointments.

He says one chief inspector was never enough, and this is the only way forward.

Meanwhile, Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says future inspectors must now also be trained because there is already a chronic shortage of qualified mine inspectors.

Gavin Taylor will be in the interim-chief inspector role for three months.