The District Court has ordered an employer to pay $480,000 after it failed to take all reasonable steps to protect its employees from harm and an employee was tragically killed at work.

The employee was working with a machine that had not been properly guarded against employees reaching into it. The employee was found crushed in the machine and suffered fatal injuries.

The Court determined that the employer had breached the required health and safety standards under New Zealand law. In New Zealand, any Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its employees.

In this case the employer failed to undertake adequate risk assessments or ensure that the machine was guarded to mitigate any crushing hazards. The employer had also failed to adequately train employees to use the machine safely, and had not provided adequate supervision when employees used the machine.

These failures exposed the employees to the risk of serious injury or death.

The Court set the starting point of the fine at $700,000. This was reduced to $350,000 after accounting for mitigating factors such as an early guilty plea, remorse, the fact that the employer had no previous breaches, and the remedial steps taken by the employer since the incident.  

The Court also ordered the employer to pay a total of $130,000 in compensation to the employee’s family.

It is important to be aware of your obligations. If you are unsure about these obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors