The District Court has recently ordered a company to pay over $35,000 after health and safety failures led to a worker being crushed by a work vehicle, suffering fatal injuries.

The company was working on a site with multiple other companies when a vehicle’s brake failed. The driverless truck rolled down a hill and crushed a worker who died at the scene.

The company was charged for their health and safety failures for failing to consult, co-operate with, and co-ordinate activities with other companies on the worksite. The maximum fine for such failings is $100,000.

The Court decided that the company had failed to fulfil their health and safety duties so far as reasonably practicable.

The company failed to implement sufficient processes and monitoring to identify all companies on the worksite. This failure meant that the company could not communicate safe systems of work, nor could they communicate the health and safety expectations to workers beyond those employed by their own company.

These failures meant that the health and safety of workers, and others whose health and safety was affected by the company’s work, were not protected. These failures are in breach of New Zealand health and safety standards.

The Court ordered the company to pay a fine of $12,000 and legal costs of $5,000. In reaching this decision the Court considered mitigating factors such as guilty plea, remorse, early remedial steps taken, and cooperation. The company was also ordered to pay $18,000 in reparations to another worker who was affected by the incident.

The company had already paid over $509,000 in reparations to the victim’s family.

It is important to be aware of your health and safety obligations as an employer. 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