An employer was ordered to pay $33,000 by way of a fine and $40,000 in reparation by the Dunedin District Court after an employee was hit on the head by a piece of machinery.

The Court found that the handle of the winch shaft could be dislodged and that there was no automatic brake system to stop the ramp from being lowered accidentally.

The ramp came down hitting a truck driver on the head and resulted in him being off work for nine months and suffering a fractured skull plus lifelong vision and hearing difficulties.

Worksafe’s prosecution was on the basis that the winch should have been fitted with an automatic brake to prevent unwinding.  This would have prevented the ramp falling and hitting the truck driver.

It is important that all machinery is safe and that all reasonable precautions are taken to ensure the machinery cannot injure anyone else.  Employers should assess all machinery and obtain expert assistance, for example from an engineer to assess the machinery and to put in place safety measures so that people are not injured.

Alan Knowsley

Employment & Health & Safety Lawyer