WorkSafe New Zealand has welcomed the recommendations in the Review of WorkSafe New Zealand’s Performance of its Regulatory Functions in Relation to Activities on Whakaari White Island, published on 22 October 2021.

This review(external link) was commissioned by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and was carried out by David Laurenson QC.

The tragic loss of 22 lives and the ongoing injuries and trauma sustained in the eruption of Whakaari White Island in December 2019 continue to affect us all, and WorkSafe acknowledges the ongoing impact of that on individuals and their whānau.

WorkSafe accepts that there were significant shortcomings in our implementation and enforcement of the Adventure Activities Regulations in relation to adventure activities on Whakaari. We deeply regret that and we are fully committed to improving our performance by addressing the review’s recommendations.

It is important to note that following the tragedy on Whakaari, WorkSafe has undertaken a considerable amount of work dedicated to improving our regulatory oversight and operational implementation of the Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016 [the Regulations]. This work includes:

  • identifying areas where we consider the Adventure Activities Regulations could be strengthened, and have provided that information to MBIE – the government agency responsible for administering, monitoring, and evaluating the Regulations.
  • improving our regulatory approach and how we administer the adventure activities regime.
  • increasing of the number of inspections carried out in the adventure activity sector each year.
  • improving capability within our Inspectorate for carrying out more effective adventure activities related inspections and coaching other inspectors in this area.
  • introducing extra training to provide our operational staff with a better understanding of WorkSafe's role in the regulation of adventure activities.
  • increasing the number positions that carry out our role as Registrar for adventure activities.
  • improving the way we record information relating to registration, monitoring, and enforcement of adventure activity operators so it is easier to access by our people.
  • establishing new ways of working to make it easier for WorkSafe’s different operational functions (including the Registrar and the Inspectorate) to take a combined and coordinated approach to our compliance monitoring and enforcement activities across the adventure activities sector.

In addition to recommendations listed in today’s report, we also intend to make the following improvements:

  • reviewing the NZ Adventure Activities Certification Scheme to consider the suggested improvements from MBIE’s targeted review of the adventure activities regulatory regime. The Scheme enables audit bodies to seek and maintain accreditation as a way to demonstrate to WorkSafe that they meet the requirements of the Adventure Activities Regulations.
  • reviewing the Safety Audit Standard for Adventure Activities to consider the suggested improvements from MBIE’s targeted review of the adventure activities regulatory regime.
  • strengthening our Memorandum of Understanding with JAS-ANZ (the Joint Accreditation Scheme of Australia and New Zealand). JAS-ANZ accreditation is the primary way that a safety auditor can demonstrate to WorkSafe that it meets, and continues to meet, the criteria in the Adventure Activities Regulations.
  • improving activity safety guidelines, which have been developed by industry technical experts in partnership with WorkSafe, and provide detailed information about how to identify and manage risks for particular adventure activities.