Flames pour out of a ventilation shaft above the Pike River mine which trapped 29 miners and contractors in Greymouth, New Zealand, in 2010. Two others survived.
Flames pour out of a ventilation shaft above the Pike River mine which trapped 29 miners and contractors in Greymouth, New Zealand, in 2010. Two others survived. Iain Mcgregor

Pike River survivor urges miners to prioritise safety

IF YOU'VE ever rolled your eyes at the thought of having to do a safety induction then you should listen to Daniel Rockhouse.

Mr Rockhouse was one of just two survivors from New Zealand's 2010 Pike River mining disaster that killed 29 people - including his younger brother.

Speaking at the Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference at the Gold Coast on Monday, Mr Rockhouse said production had been prioritised above safety at Pike River - and people died because of it.

"It's one of the most important things to do with mining. It's critical and it wasn't at all top of the list at Pike River," he said.

"Compared to the inductions I've been to over here it was completely basic."

Queensland Mines Safety and Health commissioner Kate du Preez said Mr Rockhouse's story was "humbling".

Mr Rockhouse said when he started work at Pike River there was only a short safety induction that did not cover everything he needed to know.

After the explosion, Mr Rockhouse found a mine phone and called the emergency number. It went straight to an answering machine.

He dragged fellow miner Russell Smith out of the mine. They were the only two to survive the disaster.

But Mr Rockhouse said Queensland mines took safety more seriously than it was at Pike River.

"It's tenfold better here than it was when I started at Pike. You can't fart in the wrong direction over here," he said.

"But people need to remember that coal mining is a dangerous activity. We've got to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep people safe."

- NewsRegional

News Corp Australia

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