Shockingly Low Fine From Three Work Related Deaths


Potential Fine was $750,000
The $46,000 fine imposed on VLI Drilling in Greymouth, New Zealand recently for its failures at the Pike River mine is shockingly low, says the miners' union, the EPMU.
The company faced a potential fine of $750,000 over three charges relating to its failure to take all practicable steps to protect its employees' health and safety at the mine.
VLI, a subsidiary of Sydney-based Valley Longwall International, had Josh Ufer, 25, Ben Rockhouse, 21, and Joseph Dunbar, 17, down the mine at the time of the fatal explosion on November 19, 2010. It was Joseph Dunbar's first day at work.
Low Fine Sends the Wrong Signal
EPMU Director of Organizing Alan Clarence says the shockingly low fine sends the wrong signal.
"The EPMU shares the concerns of the Pike River families over the low level of the fine. This sends the wrong message to companies looking to cut corners on health and safety and is particularly concerning given the loss of life at the mine,” said Clarence. "VLI essentially contracted out its health and safety checks to Pike River, abdicating its most basic responsibilities as an employer. This is what happens when companies try to devolve their responsibility to provide a safe workplace by contracting out, and the result is New Zealand's unacceptably high rate of workplace deaths and injuries.
Government Needs To Ensure Proper Safety
Clarence added that the Government needs to ensure this kind of employment practice is not allowed again.
“It can do this by introducing worker-elected check inspectors to ensure safety checks are being done, and by strengthening the law to ensure companies cannot contract out of their health and safety responsibilities,” stated Clarence.
The EPMU is a democratic union representing 40,000 working New Zealanders across 11 industries.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Contact:
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