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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Pike exemption problematic

Pike exemption problematic
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New Zealand

Greg Cain also told Safeguard it would be ironic if the incident that resulted in the HSW Act was also responsible for legislation to exempt a group of duty-holders from its provisions.

Labour leader Andrew Little has pledged to table a bill that would protect Solid Energy directors from liability if they allow a recovery team to re-enter the Pike River Mine, but Cain said any proposal to create exemptions from the act made him uneasy.

“Pike River kicked off the whole process for our health and safety legislation, but here we are back at Pike, talking about an exemption to protect the directors when, without it, they probably wouldn’t agree to re-entry, on the grounds that it’s not safe enough.

“I have some difficulty with that. For me, it’s either safe or it’s not.”

It also concerns him that granting an exemption may establish something of a precedent.

“The situation here might seem unusual enough to justify it, but the trouble is, if we’re prepared to say we’ll make an exception for this one, there will be other situations that people will make out a case for too.

“The reality is [when you allow an exemption], it often ends up being not just one.”

Cain says that, as he understands it, the bill, if passed, will not absolve Solid Energy, or its directors, from their obligation to manage risks associated with re-entry, but will protect the directors – although not the company – from potential prosecution. He likens the situation to that of local body politicians, who are required to uphold the HSW Act, but cannot be prosecuted for failures.

New legislation is the only way to remove liability from the company’s officers, he says, as HSW Act provisions that allow workers to perform inherently hazardous work probably don’t apply in this situation.

The Health and Safety at Work (Pike River Recovery) Amendment Bill is expected to be tabled when Parliament resumes on 7 February.



People Mentioned:
Andrew Little; Greg Cain
Organisations Mentioned:
Kensington Swan
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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