The Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill (Bill) was introduced to Parliament this week and unanimously passed its first reading yesterday. The Bill represents a key milestone in the Government's Pike River Implementation Plan.

The Bill picks up several key recommendations made by the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal mine Tragedy, including the establishment of WorkSafe New Zealand, a new workplace health and safety agency. The introduction of the Bill keeps the Government on track to meet its target of having the new agency up and running by 1 December 2013.

The Bill also proposes amendments to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSEA) specific to the mining industry. It proposes the creation of a new Mines Rescue Act 2013 to replace the current 1992 Act and to better reflect the role and functions of the Mines Rescue Trust in emergency management.

The proposed amendments to the HSEA are intended to support the introduction of a new regulatory regime that will set clear expectations concerning the management of hazards in the mining industry, and align New Zealand with international best practice in the mining industry.

The Bill has been referred to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee for consideration. The Committee is expected to report back to Parliament by 30 October 2013. In the meantime, the Government continues to consider the advice and recommendations of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety. The Pike River Implementation Plan indicates the Government will respond in detail to the Taskforce's recommendations by July of this year, so we'll continue to keep you posted on developments in this area.

You can view the Bill at: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2013/0130/latest/DLM5302019.html.