Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I have not read the RC report on 29 deaths at Pike River following the explosions two years ago.

Did Pankhurst allude to any short comings and thereby contributory responsibility for the disaster at the coalface?

Neville Rockhouse who was "Training and Safety Manager" said this morning,  "he was out of the loop of management re health and safety at the mine".

That is not as significant as some would say it could be.

If Mr Rockhouse was compromised as to his safety functions then he had two remedies:-

Firstly, make official requests for the information he needed from management using his knowledge of underground mining in potentially explosive minerals.

Secondly, talk to the miners who included his two sons, one, Daniel, who had a remarkable escape from the access tunnel and Ben, who died with the other 28, about what was actually going down in the mine.   I cannot accept that if it was as bad as the Commission found, the miners were not  talking about the situation at and away from work.

I read  earlier reports that men had unauthorised paraphernalia on their person when going into the mine, including matches; the control board was not always correct in displaying who was actually underground;
and allegations that gas detectors were covered to avoid the outcomes that they were supposed to monitor.

What other matters did the miners see as not required to be complied with?
These were all matters that a half competent training and safety manager should have had a complete understanding of and for an information stream outside that of "management" he needed look no further than his two sons.

If Mr Rockhouse was being excluded from management knowledge he should have removed himself from the position he was unable to deliver from. Admitting now that he was prevented from accessing information is a crock.

Once a week I train for emergency response  as a volunteer and any shortcut or compromising attitude to safe practice is jumped on any time and by anyone, officers and peers alike, disregarding whether the failure endangers the perp, a mate or any one else

The other grave question for me relates to the fact that one part of Government approved the coal extraction while another arm of that organisation is being ignored as to any possibly contributory failures of health and safety by constraining what the mining company could do to enhance safety and good practice. ie why have an access tunnel that rises when most mines go down to the coal; why have only oneway in and out; and there seemed to be constrained venting when the work areas were so far from the mine entrance.

Were any failures of personal responsibility addressed or was it all about nasty rapacious bosses and an incompetent uncaring regulatory regime.

Well done Kate Wilkinson, Mallard your silence resounds.


Anonymous said...

True enough - rules exist to be broken and there are, on occasion, consequences beyond a fine but well done Kate Wiiliamson? A gesture with no real loss of income or anything else? If only falling on one's word was always that painless all politicians would be doing it.


mark said...

Yeah, if you're expected to support your family you should totally accept the consequences of being bullied to work in a poorly designed mine where senior management cultivate a climate of fear and routinely ignore rules and regulations.


In early September 2010, the pressure to produce coal increased massively when Whittall introduced a production bonus for all Pike staffers. If hydraulic mining was underway by 24 September and producing a targetted volume of coal, the men would get a $10,000 bonus. After this, Nishioka says he was under pressure from all the miners to get the system going as quickly as possible.


Anonymous said...

Williamson's guesture reminds me of the examples in the past where much lauding was made of Ministers giving up there business class seats for economy for an older fellow traveller when both seats were paid by the taxapyer.