The District Court has found an employer guilty of failing to take all reasonable steps to protect the safety of workers after a contractor fell to his death at the workplace.

The contractor was working about 3m off the ground when he leaned against a wire safety rope. The rope broke and he fell to his death. It was found that all the safety wires were badly corroded and were not strong enough to take the weight of anyone falling or leaning on them. They therefore provided no protection from falling.

The wires had not been regularly inspected to test their strength and there was no maintenance plan in place. In addition contractors were not trained to carry out checks on the ropes before relying on them as a safety device.

The employer was fined $279,000 (reduced from a starting point of $450,000 due to mitigating factors) and also ordered to pay $90,000 to the victims three children (who were left orphaned by the tragic accident).

Putting in place safety equipment is not sufficient. It must be regularly checked and maintained to ensure it provides the safety features it was designed to have. A failure to do so here resulted in the worker losing their life when simple and effective checks would have prevented the accident.