Could WINZ have done more?

WorkSafe NZ is prosecuting the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) over the shooting of two WINZ staff in its Ashburton office.

The mother of a woman killed in Ashburton’s Work and Income shooting is disappointed her daughter’s employer has been charged over the incident, saying “nobody could foresee what was going to happen that day”.

WorkSafe NZ today laid a charge against the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) after the shooting on September 1 last year.

Russell John Tully, 48, was charged with the murders of Peg Noble and Susan Leigh Cleveland, and seriously wounding Lindy Curtis, at their Cass St office.

Another staff member, Kim Adams, was shot at as she ran out the back door.

WorkSafe NZ alleges the MSD failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work.

The charge, under section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act, was laid in the Wellington District Court.

Cleveland’s mother, Kath Cleveland, said she was disappointed WorkSafe felt a charge was warranted as the shooting could not have been predicted. . .

“The only thing I can say is these WorkSafe people might see something in it that us everyday people don’t see. I don’t know if it is going to help or not,” she said.

Cleveland said her daughter never complained about feeling unsafe at work. . .

The court case will have to make the reason for the prosecution clear.

However, without any knowledge of what has motivated WorkSafe’s decision to prosecute and on the facts made public so far I am unpleasantly surprised by this decision which  will be concerning to all employers.

I have vague memories of a freezing company being prosecuted when an employee was injured as a result of a fight in its car park.

I can’t recall the details but do remember at the time wondering how it could have been the employers’ fault and that was my immediate reaction to the news of this prosecution.

Could WINZ have done more to protect its staff? That is now up to the court to determine.

7 Responses to Could WINZ have done more?

  1. Andrei says:

    Absurd – in an uncertain world you cannot fully protect yourself or others against rare, random and unforeseeable events.

    Are we going to see armed guards in every public building? Would this even help?

    Are we going to subject ourselves to being frisked every time we enter a Government building?

    Its not the nation I want to live in, I prefer living with the very small (incredibly tiny) chance that I might encounter a crazed gunman to that


  2. Mr E says:

    Bureaucracy – out of control.

    Could MSD have done more? Sure. Should they have done more, is the question. Keeping in mind the more they spend on infrastructure, policy, and safety the less they provide to the people in need.

    I am really starting to wonder about Worksafe.


  3. Captain Fantastic says:

    Its just crazy. Madness. Whose idea was this worksafe anyway ? A most unflattering and unwelcome child of the present Control Freak government.
    Who will rid us of these loathsome priests?


  4. JC says:

    It looks bad by Worksafe but I’ll withhold judgement until I see the charges.

    The possible charge may relate to a poor response by MSD to specific threats that should have been referred to police or somesuch.



  5. Gravedodger says:

    It will be rather easy with the benefit of hindsight and elapsed time to find procedural failings but unless viewed against the behavioral complications from substance abuse, mental issues, and all too often emotional factors in some of those dealing with welfare as the main thread in the lives of thousands whovisit WINZ regularly.

    I cant help but believe this tradgedy would not have been better reviewed in an inquiry system rather than what will become an adversorial contest where the truth will be subsumed by defence and blame transfer.

    Are the “crats” at worksafe perhaps emboldeed by the somewhat ott outcome at Havelock with the dairy farmers declining to wear helmets while riding their atvs.


  6. TraceyS says:

    The public sector should get the same treatment from WorkSafe as the private sector.

    If action is not taken by WorkSafe because it’s a Government organisation, then we have a similar situation to the one where farmers face action for pollution and Councils do not.

    We should expect all Government organisations to be role models and hold them to the highest standards. They should not get softer treatment than the private sector.

    The substance of the specific charges cannot fairly be judged until all the details are revealed.


  7. JC says:

    GD and Tracey, I’m playing Devil’s Advocate here..

    Apart from the possibility that MSD had grown far too blase about some of their clients threats the thought of the often dumb recommendations from the coroners and the lengthy and often meaningless results from inquiries a Worksafe court case has the advantage of bringing out all the factors in stark relief, eg, a defense lawyer might make an argument that the vast majority of MSD clients are non threatening and the MSD sysyem should be kept friendly for them but that difficult clients should immediately go into a different system where they are dealt with by hard men.

    There is in fact precedent for this.. the Harris Gang in Chch were not handled directly by the likes of MSD but by a safer system.



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