Date: 22 November 2012
The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it has strengthened its safety procedures on Raoul Island following the disappearance of a volunteer measuring sea temperatures earlier this year.
Mihai Muncus-Nagy, from Romania, went missing while taking water temperature readings from Fishing Rock on Raoul Island, 1000 kilometres north east of New Zealand, on January 2.
DOC was today convicted on a health and safety charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Mihai’s safety. DOC had earlier admitted the charge and has paid $60,000 in compensation to Mihai’s family.
DOC’s deputy director general of operations, Sue Cosford, says Mihai was a well-liked and respected member of DOC’s Raoul Island team.
She says DOC has expressed its sincere apologies to Mihai’s family and has been liaising with them since his disappearance.
Sue Cosford says DOC had identified Fishing Rock as a hazard and staff and volunteers were trained in how to measure sea temperatures, including not to undertake the task if sea conditions were rough.
However she says DOC acknowledges it should have also considered additional safeguards such as requiring a lifejacket to be worn, or having a second person on hand.
She says DOC has worked with a health and safety inspector on a full review of its procedures on Raoul Island and implemented all recommendations.
Sue Cosford says workplace safety is a priority for DOC and Mihai’s disappearance is a powerful reminder of the need to be continuously reviewing the risks staff face and the systems in place to keep them safe.
Nick Hirst, Media Advisor
Ph: +64 9 307 4866 or +64 27 704 7773