An employer has been ordered to pay over $300,000 by the District Court after they failed to meet required health and safety standards. These failures led to a worker suffering fatal injuries after falling from a roof.

The worker was completing repair and paint work when he fell off the corner of a roof. The worker fell 4.5m and suffered fatal head and chest injuries.

The employer did not have a Site-Specific Safety Plan, failed to have any edge protection or scaffolding, and did not provide harnesses to workers. The only safety advice given by the employer was for the workers to work on hands and knees when close to the edge of the roof for extra stability.

The employer was charged by the Court with failing to protect, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers. This failure led to workers being exposed to a risk of serious injury or death.

The Court decided that the employer’s failures exposed four workers to the risk of serious injury or death. These failures included not having a Site-Specific Safety plan, no edge protection and failing to follow their own health and safety measures.

The Court found that the risk of falling from a height would have been obvious to anyone on the worksite, and that installing edge protection on the site was in line with industry guidelines.

The risk involved in working from a height was serious, and the cost of installing appropriate edge protection was not so high that the employer could not afford to follow the accepted industry practice.

The Court ordered the employer to pay a fine of $37,500 after accounting for the employer’s cooperation, previous good character, reparation, remorse and guilty plea. The fine was also reduced because of the employer’s ability to pay the fine.

The employer was also ordered to pay $130,000 in reparations to the victim’s family, $131,000 in consequential loss, as well as $5,000 in costs.

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