The Pike River Coal mine disaster on New Zealand’s West Coast has focused international attention on the extractive industry, and mostly for the wrong reasons. The investigation into the event by the Department of Labour (now Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment [MBIE] ) and the subsequent Royal Commission of Enquiry identified poor regulatory oversight by the Mining Inspectorate, inadequacies of the self regulatory model of health and safety compliance generally within the industry, a lack of management oversight and commitment to health and safety within the company, and substandard practices by the workforce. While the mining community of the West Coast, and indeed the wider community awaits the outcome of the deliberations of the group of mining experts evaluating the options for recovering the bodies of the 29 miners that remain in the mine, the industrial community waits to see the government’s response to the 16 recommendations of the Royal Commission into the disaster.
The ‘Workplace Health and Safety Strategy for NZ to 2015’ aims to lift New Zealand’s workplace health and safety performance. Part of this strategy is the Occupational Health Action Plan to 2013. The broad scope of this document is giving occupational health more priority. We’re bringing this to your attention to help you be aware of your responsibilities in your workplace.
The priority areas of focus are:
Reducing exposure to these hazards
- Cancer causing agents in the workplace
- Respiratory hazards
- Skin irritants
- Psycho-social hazards (exhibited as chronic fatigue, stress related disorders, alcohol & drug abuse, heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders and suicide)
Plenty of fresh water is something that we New Zealanders tend to take for granted, until we have a hot, dry summer and news of drought hardship for farmers hits our screens. World Water Day is there to help remind us about sustainably managing freshwater resources, and also focusing our attention on the importance of freshwater.
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater. In 2013, in reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day in 2013 is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water.