Worksafe,New Zealand’s primary regulator for workplace related incidents, will charge 10 parties under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

An aerial view of the Whakaari, also known as White Island volcano, in New Zealand, December 12, 2019.
An aerial view of the Whakaari, also known as White Island volcano, in New Zealand, December 12, 2019. (Jorge Silva / Reuters)

Worksafe, New Zealand’s primary regulator for workplace related incidents, has said in a news conference its investigations found 13 parties had not met their health and safety obligations that resulted in killing 22 and injuring dozens.

A surprise eruption on the White Island, also known by its Maori name of Whakaari, on December 9 last year, killed 22 people and injured dozens.

Majority of them were tourists from countries like Australia, the United States and Malaysia who were part of a cruise ship that was travelling around New Zealand. There were 47 people on the island when the volcano erupted.

Worksafe will charge 10 parties under the Health and Safety at Work Act which has a maximum fine of $1.06 million (NZ$1.5 million), the report said.

“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.” said WorkSafe Chief Executive Phil Parkes.

Relatives walk in the harbour as they wait for rescue mission, following the White Island volcano eruption in Whakatane, New Zealand, December 13, 2019.
Relatives walk in the harbour as they wait for rescue mission, following the White Island volcano eruption in Whakatane, New Zealand, December 13, 2019. (Jorge Silva / Reuters)

Worksafe has charged 10 organisations under the Health and Safety at Work Act with each charge carrying a maximum fine of $1.06 million.

Three individuals were charged as directors or individuals who were required to exercise due diligence to ensure the company meets its health and safety obligations. These charges each carry a maximum fine of $300,000.

WorkSafe did not name those charged as they may seek suppression orders in their first appearance in court on December 15.

The agency said it had not investigated the rescue and recovery following the eruption, as that is the subject of a coronial inquest which is underway.

At the time of the eruption questions were raised why people were allowed on the island, a popular destination for day-trippers, given there was reportedly a heightened risk of an eruption.

READ MORE: New Zealand divers attempt to recover last two victims from volcanic island

Source: Reuters