The District Court has ordered an employer to pay over $375,000 for breaching its health and safety obligations resulting in the death of an employee.

The employee worked on a forestry block cutting down trees manually with a chainsaw for harvesting.

Although the incident was not witnessed, the Worksafe investigation suggests that the employee felled a tree that caught on a nearby dead tree. The dead tree likely fell on the employee, crushing and killing him.

Worksafe was critical that a full hazard and risk assessment should have been completed to assist with putting in place the appropriate controls.

This should have included taking steps to determine the number of dead trees on the block, and the actions that should have been taken to mitigate the risks that they posed.

By failing to take this step, the Court held that the employer breached its health and safety responsibilities.

The Court ordered the employer to pay a fine of $10,000 and reparations of $255,255 to the employee’s family.

It is important for employers to properly assess all of the potential risks a workplace may pose to its employees, and actively take steps to eliminate or minimise them. Failure to do so may put the lives and wellbeing of employees at risk, and result in substantial penalties against the employer.

If there are concerns about the health and safety practices in your workplace, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.