WorkSafe New Zealand v Inflite Charters Ltd [2022] NZDC 5627

Published 26 May 2022

Sentencing — failing to ensure safety of others — Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, ss 28, 36(2) & 48 — Stumpmaster v Worksafe [2018] NZHC 2020 — Jones v Worksafe New Zealand [2015] NZHC 781. The defendant appeared for sentence after pleading guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of other persons. It was a tour organiser that sold and provided trips to various New Zealand destinations. The charge arose from the fatal Whakaari eruption of 2019. The defendant had no customers on the Island at the time of the eruption, but the prosecutor alleged various failures by the defendant in the lead up. Specifically, that the defendant failed to undertake adequate risk assessments or controls to ensure the safety of visitors to the Island; to monitor and review known hazards; and to ensure that adequate risk information was available to its customers. The prosecutor did not argue for reparations. In assessing fine, the Court found that the defendant had failed to take a number of practicable steps; that the seriousness of the risk was extremely high, given that there had been warnings in the leadup to the eruption; that the defendant's conduct had failed to meet industry standards; and that the hazard was obvious and easily avoided. The start point for fine was $350,000, and the Court made reductions for good safety record and guilty plea. The total fine was $227,500 plus court costs of $40,000. Judgment Date: 31 March 2022.