The District Court has recently fined a company for two serious incidents in relation to operating machinery. The Court found that the company had clearly failed to meet their health and safety obligations on the two separate occasions.

One incident occurred in January 2021. While a worker was completing her duties her hand was sucked into a part of machinery, and it was severely and permanently damaged.

The second incident occurred six months later, in June 2021. While another worker was cleaning machinery a part of the machinery came down, again severely and permanently damaging her hand.

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

In relation to the first incident the Court decided that the company had made multiple failures which exposed its workers to a risk of serious injury. The company had failed to ensure that the machine had proper guarding, or that the machine was regularly inspected, tested, and maintained.

The company also failed to train its workers adequately for operating the machinery. The Court decided that the company failed to implement proper health and safety measures and properly supervise workers. It therefore failed to meet its duties in terms of the first incident.

For the second incident the Court decided that the company had failed to meet its health and safety obligations for the same reasons. However, in addition, the company had failed to implement safe procedures for cleaning the machine and dealing with it while it was out of production.

The starting point of the fine was set at $550,000 for each incident. This was uplifted by 5% in relation to the second incident, due to the fact that the company had failed to meet its obligations twice.

However, the fine was eventually decreased to $18,000 for each incident due to the company’s financial incapacity to pay a larger fine. The company was also ordered to pay legal and expert costs of over $10,000 in total for both incidents.

The company was not ordered to pay any reparations to the victims as they had already done so “above and beyond” what the Court would have ordered.

It is vital to ensure that health and safety measures are implemented adequately in order to prevent incidents such as these. If you are confused about your health and safety obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors