White Island: WorkSafe NZ charges 13 parties following eruption

There’s an expectation ‘which goes to the heart of our health and safety culture’

White Island: WorkSafe NZ charges 13 parties following eruption

Several New Zealand parties have been charged following the White Island volcano disaster.

White Island, a popular tourist spot in NZ, suffered an eruption on December 22 of last year – in which 22 people tragically lost their lives.

The organisations were charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

In a statement released by WorkSafe NZ chief executive, Phil Parkes, explained the nature of the investigation.

“This tragedy has had a wide-ranging impact on victims, families, communities and iwi,” he commented.

“There were 47 people on the island at the time of the eruption, all of whom suffered serious injuries and trauma, and 22 of those have lost their lives. Those who went to the island, did so with the reasonable expectation that there were appropriate systems in place to ensure they made it home healthy and safe.

“That’s an expectation which goes to the heart of our health and safety culture. As a nation we need to look at this tragedy and ask if we are truly doing enough to ensure our mothers, fathers, children and friends come home to us healthy and safe at the end of each day.”

WorkSafe NZ added that though this tragedy was “unexpected” that doesn’t necessarily mean it was “unforeseeable” – adding that the operators had a duty to protect those in their care.

Safety at work is a paramount concern for employers, as HR leaders continue to take extra measures to ensure their organisations are compliant.

The onset of COVID-19 has added yet another level of compliance to HR leaders’ rosters, including new rules around duty of care in relation of disease transmission.

HRD uncovered whether or not an employer can be sued if a worker catches COVID-19 at work – find out more here.  

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