Company ordered to pay over $500,000 after health and safety failures…

The District Court has recently ordered a company to pay $502,500 after health and safety failures led to the death of an employee.

The employee was carrying out his work activities when he was crushed by one of the many pieces of machinery used to move goods in the workplace. The employee suffered fatal injuries.

The Court had to determine whether the company had failed to meet their health and safety obligations. As a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking, the company was required to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its employees.

The Court described the accident was a “wholly avoidable” event.

The company failed to properly identify the risk that the machinery posed to employees. Similar machinery in the workplace had necessary safety features such as hooks that acted to stop parts from falling, but the machinery involved did not have any such stops in place.

The company admitted that they had carried out poor risk assessments that were not to the industry required standard. Further, the risks that had been identified were not properly monitored.

One risk involved with the accident had been given a rating of 10, which requires weekly monitoring. Despite this, the company failed to regularly monitor the machinery.

The Court also found that there had been previous incidents with the machinery which identified risks to employees, but nothing had been done to minimise those risks. The company had also failed to consult their employees about such perceived risks.

The Court decided that the company had clearly failed to ensure the health and safety of its workers. It was emphasised that “workers should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety and welfare”.

The company was ordered to pay a fine of $502,500. This had been decreased from the starting point of $750,000 after accounting for guilty plea, cooperation, remorse, reparation and remedial steps taken.

The Court did not order the company to pay any compensation to the victim’s family, given that they had already made payments of almost $140,000.  

It is vital to ensure that, as a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking, you are meeting your health and safety obligations. If you are confused about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price 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.

Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors