The Blenheim District Court has convicted and fined a construction company following the death of one of its employees in a motor vehicle accident.

The employee was not licensed to drive a heavy vehicle but was allowed to drive a dump truck on a public road by his supervisor.  This was contrary to all of the company’s health and safety policies, but they were not communicated properly and not enforced. 

The vehicle rolled down a steep bank killing the employee.  The Court held that the risks of allowing an unlicensed driver to drive a heavy vehicle on a public road was not only serious but also obvious.  The company was ordered to pay $115,000 in reparation to members of the employee’s family and was also fined over $350,000.

Just having policies in place is of no use if those policies are not communicated to staff and enforced.  All employers should have processes in place to not only develop policies on health and safety in their workplace, but to ensure that they are communicated to all staff and to check up that the policies are being implemented at all times.

Alan Knowsley

Health & Safety and Employment Lawyer