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Jurassic World: A Health & Safety Perspective

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Jurassic World: A health and safety perspective (Contains Spoilers)

 

Jurassic World, now the fastest movie ever to reach $1bn at the global box office, offers three lessons that are relevant to health and safety (and dinosaurs):

 

1.       the importance of taking all practicable steps to ensure safety

2.       the importance of ensuring risks are communicated clearly, and

3.       the importance of closing down when risks become unacceptable.

 

Practicable steps

Park operators must take all practicable stepsto ensure customers’ and employees’ safety. 

 

So, what steps were practicable at Jurassic World?  For a start:

·         ensuring the Indominus enclosure had a double door

·         destroying Indominus, as a matter of practice, in the event of a containment breach, and

·         keeping the enclosure sufficiently clear for Indominus to be visible at all times.     

 

Double doors/gates are required for all animal enclosures in New Zealand zoos, as is the destruction of escaped dangerous animals. However here, given the size of the risk created by Indominus, even these practicable steps might not be enough.

 

Communication of risk

As the film progresses, we learn that the researchers did not disclose the abilities that were engineered into the Indominus. As a result, the keepers and security staff were unable to prevent or contain the subsequent escape. 

 

Unfortunately, health and safety cases are littered with examples of poor communication leading to accidents and death. For example, in Worksafe New Zealand v Hao & Liu Union Ltd a lack of communication between the site manager, arborist, and an employee clearing debris lead to the employee being struck by a falling branch and suffering serious head injuries.

 

Ensuring clear communication is simple and inexpensive, and is another practicable step that should have been taken by the employers in Jurassic World.

 

Closing down

A (legally) interesting moment occurs when the park manager decides to keep Jurassic World open, even as chaos reigned, trusting that the park’s safety features would ultimately contain the Indominus.

 

Given the number of guests on the island, and the risk of harm posed by a rampaging dinosaur, we would have evacuated the island as soon as the containment breach was known. However, the better question for the park is whether the Indominus should have been created at all?

 

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 does not require a standard of perfection and the courts have been reluctant to require firms to shut down, even when faced with the potential for extreme harm.

 

However, the courts have suggested that some tasks are simply too dangerous to be performed.  For example, in Martin Simmons Air Conditioning Services Ltd v Department of Labour, the Court said that:

 

“There may be situations where the potential harm is so severe (i.e. death) and the risk so high that if the cost of avoiding the risk is too high then the task should not be attempted at all”

 

In Jurassic World, even the high tech enclosures and safety measures could not contain a rampaging Indominus.  Unfortunately for dinosaur enthusiasts in New Zealand, it is not practicable to keep a genetically engineered dinosaur as a zoo exhibit. 

 

Conclusion

It is unlikely a Jurassic World, or at least an Indominus exhibit, would be allowed to operate in New Zealand.  

 

If you have questions regarding health and safety please contact Phil McCarthy (Associate) philip.mccarthy@abmm.co.nz or Sean Maskill (Solicitor) sean.maskill@abmm.co.nz.  

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Sean Maskill