White Island tragedy: Details of independent review of WorkSafe revealed

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 18 Dec 2020, 7:23PM
Photo / AP
Photo / AP

White Island tragedy: Details of independent review of WorkSafe revealed

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 18 Dec 2020, 7:23PM

The Government has today released the terms of reference into the independent review of WorkSafe's operations on Whakaari/White Island after the eruption that claimed 22 lives.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood said the review would the "adequacy and appropriateness" of WorkSafe's actions in relation to Whakaari/White Island and whether further steps should have been taken.

"MBIE has appointed David Laurenson QC to undertake the review - I expect to receive the review in May," Wood said.

The minister said the Government was committed to strengthening safety regulations after the Whakaari/White Island tragedy.

He also announced the first stage of the targeted review of the adventure activities regulations.

It showed that the adventure activities regulatory regime was performing "reasonably well", but had found areas which could be strengthened.

Key findings of the adventure activities regulations review include:

• The long-term sustainability of the certification scheme will need to be carefully considered.

• WorkSafe prioritised other sectors with high work-related harm over adventure activities, and should take a greater leadership role in the adventure activities sector.

• The adventure activities regulatory regime has improved safety. From 2004 to 2009 there were 31 deaths under activities that would be likely regulated today. Since 2014, when the adventure regime came fully into force, there were eight deaths in these regulated adventure activities, excluding the Whakaari victims. This was during a decade where the tourism sector grew by 55 per cent.

• Nearly all adventure activities involve natural hazard risks to a greater or lesser extent. The regime could be strengthened to help operators better identify and manage natural hazard risks, through changes to the safety audit standard and the certification scheme.

Wood said the Government was committed to working through the report's findings to improve safety standards in the first half of 2021 and making the appropriate changes.

He said post-eruption, WorkSafe evaluated its own role in the regime and was making changes to ensure that it is administering the adventure activities regime effectively.

"These include improving support for registration and compliance, improving operational systems, and developing a stakeholder engagement strategy."