The District Court has convicted and fined a roofing company following one of its workers falling against edge protection (installed by another company) on a roof where they were working.  When the worker slipped and fell against the edge protection it gave way.  The worker fell over 8 metres to the ground and suffered severe injuries.

The company was fined $240,000 and ordered to pay over $20,000 in reparation.  Although the edge protection was installed by a different company, the materials that was used for the edge protection were provided by the employer and had not been adequately or appropriately tested to ensure that they would take the weight of a worker falling against it.

The company that installed the inadequate edge protection materials was fined $25,000 and this was payable over five years due to the financial circumstances of the company.

Outsourcing the erection of the safety equipment was no protection for the employer because its own systems to ensure the material was adequate were not up to scratch.  If the material had been supplied by the company that installed it, then the company may have had an argument that it had done everything practicable to provide a safe workplace but outsourcing health and safety matters is not a defence of itself.

Alan Knowsley

Health & Safety Lawyer
Wellington