Govt responds to independent review into WorkSafe

  • Hon Michael Wood

The Government has clear expectations that WorkSafe must action the recommendations of the independent review into the regulator to improve its management of adventure activities following the tragedy at Whakaari White Island, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood says.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) today released the independent review by David Laurenson QC. It was commissioned after the Government asked MBIE to provide advice on whether WorkSafe carried out its obligations appropriately in relation to Whakaari White Island. The review considered WorkSafe’s actions in relation to Whakaari White Island in the period before the eruption.

“The Whakaari White Island eruption was a devastating tragedy where 22 people died and more were injured – as a Government we committed to learning the lessons to help prevent similar incidents,” Michael Wood said.

“The review found that WorkSafe fell short of good practice in its regulation of activities on Whakaari White Island over the 2014-19 period. The review says that improvements are needed in WorkSafe’s management of the adventure activities system.

“The review makes clear recommendations and my expectation is they will be actioned by July next year and have asked for their plan to complete this work by the end of the month. I have also asked WorkSafe to consider the review’s lessons and how these might apply more broadly to other areas of their work to ensure they do not have the same issues.

“There is also wider work underway on improving the adventure activities regime in New Zealand to raise safety standards. It’s important we provide safe experiences for New Zealanders and international visitors once our borders reopen.

A consultation on the adventure activities regime is currently open and I encourage everyone to have their say on the proposed improvements to health and safety in the sector.

“If we strengthen the adventure activities regulations and improve WorkSafe processes, we can reduce the risk of terrible events like the Whakaari White Island eruption happening again,” Michael Wood said.

The independent review is available here.

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