Sand boarding death puts sad new perspective on customer care

August 30, 2023

(New Zealand)
The health and safety of customers must be a priority for businesses, WorkSafe New Zealand says, in light of a horrific sand boarding incident which killed a tourist on a family holiday in the Far North.

Jin Chang Oh was boarding the giant sand dunes at Te Paki when he slid into the path of a moving bus in February 2019. The South Korean national had been on a tour run by Sand Safaris 2014 Limited. His death was witnessed by his wife, son, daughter in law, and granddaughter.

A WorkSafe investigation found the company ineffectively identified and controlled the hazards and risks of sandboarding in that itt had not ensured riders were kept safe from vehicles and did not have an effective traffic management system in place.

The company was charged under sections 36(2) and 48(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and fined $200,000 and ordered to pay reparations totalling $182,209.33.

Judge Philip Rzepecky said “a clearly identifiable hazard” was overlooked and Mr. Oh was “not to blame at all for what happened to him.”

WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Danielle Henry added: “The facts of this sad case speak for themselves. Allowing high-speed leisure activities to take place in such close proximity to moving vehicles without tightly managing the risks is asking for trouble.

“Sand Safaris should have learned from an incident at the same location three years earlier, where a person sandboarding with another company was run over and seriously injured.

“Operators not only have a responsibility for their workers, but also their customers, and must not lose sight of that. While we want thrill-seekers to enjoy themselves, it’s critical that risks are not overlooked, and businesses do what they can to keep people safe.”

This is valid as of 29th August 2023.

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