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Board of Trustees face charges under HSWA 2015

The Whangārei Boys' High School Board of Trustees has been charged for health and safety failures following the death of fifteen-year-old Karnin Petera. The tragedy occurred on May 9, 2023, during a school trip to Abbey Caves when severe weather conditions unexpectedly set in, putting the group in grave danger. Despite efforts to ensure the students' safety, Karnin Petera lost his life in the incident.

WorkSafe New Zealand has charged the school board under the Health and Safety at Work Act, marking a significant move in holding educational institutions accountable for student safety during school activities. This case could set important precedents regarding the duties and responsibilities of officers and boards across New Zealand, influencing how safety protocols are enforced and managed.

For school boards and companies alike, this incident serves as a critical reminder of the importance of robust health and safety measures. Ensuring the safety of students and employees is paramount, and this case highlights the need for continuous review and improvement of hazard and risk management frameworks. Learning from such tragedies is essential to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Staying informed about legal developments and understanding the implications of this case is crucial for all organisations. By proactively updating safety practices and adhering to regulatory standards, boards and companies can better protect their people and fulfill their legal and moral obligations. The case of Whangārei Boys' High School underscores the importance of prioritising health and safety in all organisational activities.

Watch Matt's take on this developing case:

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