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Department of Conservation Convicted over Volunteer Death

Media release

22 November 2012

Department of Conservation convicted over volunteer death

The Department of Conservation (DoC) was convicted today at Auckland District Court following the death of DoC volunteer Mihai Muncus-Nagy earlier this year.

Mr Muncus-Nagy was carrying out the weekly sea temperature reading on the morning of 2 January 2012 on Raoul Island when he disappeared and is missing, presumed drowned.

As an employer, DoC failed to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Muncus-Nagy’s safety whilst working as a volunteer on Raoul Island.

John Howard, General Manager, Northern Division, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said: “This unfortunate tragedy underlines the need for employers to be constantly vigilant about workplace health and safety. Even if employers have identified hazards, that is not enough as they must then put processes and systems in place to mitigate the identified risk. In this case DoC, despite identifying the hazard, did not take all necessary steps to effectively control the risk.
Under section 8(4) of the Crown Organisations (Criminal Liability) Act the court may not sentence the defendant to pay a fine. DoC has already paid $60,000 in reparation to Mr Muncus-Nagy’s family.

Notes to Editors:

The DoC was charged under Section 3C and s6(1) and s50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online: http://legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1992/0096/latest/DLM278829.html

ENDS

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