The District Court has ordered an employer to pay $54,500 after inadequate health and safety measures led to a workplace fire.

An inquiry into the incident found that the fire started because of gas-cutting activities which ignited some materials nearby. The fire spread to other flammable materials, causing a large flame that took firefighters a long time to extinguish.

No one was injured during the fire, but residents nearby were told to close their doors and windows to avoid toxins produced by the flames. The Court held that the fire also posed a risk of serious injury to any one in or near the workplace. 

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their workers so far as reasonably practicable. That duty includes taking measures which prevent the risk of serious injury.

The Court found that the employer failed to complete appropriate health and safety procedures to avoid the risk of injury, as they did not conduct safety checks, or any full site risk assessments. They also did not have appropriate firefighting equipment.

The Court ordered the employer to pay a fine of $48,000 for their health and safety failures. The employer was also ordered to pay $4,000 in reparation to a victim of the incident, and $2,500 in court costs.

There are important health and safety obligations which must be followed by businesses. If you are confused about your 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