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WorkSafe New Zealand has filed charges for 13 parties concerning the Whakaari/White Island eruption that happened during December of 2019.
“22 people have lost their lives in this tragic event. WorkSafe is tasked with investigating workplace incidents to determine whether those with health and safety responsibilities met them. This was an unexpected event, but that does not mean it was unforeseeable, and there is a duty on operators to protect those in their care.”
WorkSafe Chief Executive Phil Parkes says that the charges put an end to the most ‘extensive’ and ‘complex’ investigation that was ever undertaken in WorkSafe history.
“We investigated whether those with any involvement in taking tourists to the island were meeting their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. We consider that these 13 parties did not meet those obligations. It is now up to the judicial system to determine whether they did or not. WorkSafe can’t comment on the matters in front of the court.
“This tragedy has had a wide-ranging impact on victims, families, communities and iwi. 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,” Mr Parkes said.
“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.”
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