19 Aug 2011

Pike River boss defends safety response

5:53 pm on 19 August 2011

The chief executive of Pike River Coal says the company always did what was necessary after safety incidents at the mine.

Peter Whittall has commented on a Department of Labour report which deals with incidents in the years before the explosions last November in which 29 men died.

The report says two safety deputies at the Pike River mine on the West Coast were sacked over serious safety breaches, but that prosecutions under the Health and Safety in Employment Act were not warranted.

One deputy was dismissed after a safety device known as a dead man's switch was found taped open with a cable tie.

The inspector who examined the incident decided the deputy had paid the price and should not be prosecuted.

A similar view was taken when another deputy was dismissed after a miner's foot was crushed.

The Department of Labour says the inspectors' responses were consistent and appropriate.

Mr Whittall says the company took the action it needed to at the time of any incidents and it was up to the department to prosecute, but it did not.