The District Court has ordered a company to pay $200,000 after a man fell from his mobility scooter and was fatally injured. The accident happened when the man’s mobility scooter attempted to traverse a footpath which had been damaged by heavy vehicles during the development of a housing site.

Under New Zealand law, all persons conducting business are responsible for the health and safety of, not only their employees and those on the work site, but also those that may be affected by the worksite (including those that are not directly on site).

The company did not identify the damaged footpath as a risk. However, an investigation into the accident found that the company ought to have done so. In order to comply with the company’s health and safety obligations, the company should have blocked off the damaged footpath and established a safe alternative route to pass the worksite.

A fine of $100,000 was imposed and reparation of the same amount was ordered. The fine was reduced from a starting point of $550,000 as a result of mitigating factors and financial circumstances. The maximum penalty in a case of this type is $1.5 million.

A representative from WorkSafe said that workplaces must think broadly about the impacts of their activities upon the health and safety of everyone at a workplace. Other people potentially at risk from work activities include volunteers, customers, passers-by, visitors or workers from another entity.

The man may not have been fatally injured had the company in this case taken all steps reasonably practicable to prevent such an accident.