New Zealand has an estimated six underground coal mines and three underground metaliferous mines.  In the period 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2005 the New Zealand Department of Labor received 51 notificaitons of serious harm to employees working in underground mines. 

Thus the Department of Labor has decided to act.  At this link is their plan.  The basic approach is to ask people to identify better ways of working safely.  I quote:

The Department of Labour wants your views on what will help the underground mining industry identify and manage hazards effectively and create safe and healthy workplace systems, cultures and practices.

We want to achieve the right mix of regulatory and other changes to improve the ways hazards are identified and managed. This document sets out a range of high-level approaches for achieving this.

We will use your feedback to advise the government on the best mix of approaches and options to improve the ways hazards are identified and managed.

To their credit, they have identified a range of ways of improving things.  I quote again:

The potential options are organised into six different approaches to improve the ways hazards are identified and managed in the underground mining industry:

    1. I. A new safety case hazard management system
    2. II. Ways to improve notification of hazards
    3. III. Ways to improve guidance
    4. IV. Ways to amend regulatory coverage
    5. V. Ways to improve employee participation
    6. VI. Ways to improve health and safety inspections

I was most intigued by the safety case option.  Here is how they describe it:

A safety case regime would require operators to present a case to a Department of Labour inspector to demonstrate how they will manage safety. The case would need to be approved before operations could begin.

A safety case regime is an objective-based regime where legislation sets broad safety objectives for the mine operator. The operator is responsible for the on-going management of safety and develops the most appropriate methods to achieve those objectives.

The operator must make a 'case' demonstrating to the Department of Labour how they will manage safety effectively. The Department of Labour reviews the case and must approve it before operations can begin, and the operation must follow the methods set out in the safety case.

If this and the other proposed approaches interest you, best go to the paper.