The District Court has imposed a fine and reparation on a contracting company after one of its employees crashed a work vehicle on the way home from work.  The exact cause of the accident has not been determined, but it is assumed that the employee fell asleep while driving at about 2.45 am.  The employee had been working long hours in the two weeks preceding the accident and had worked for more than 16 hours on the day of the accident.

The Court found the company had failed to put in place a fatigue management system to identify specific factors that can result in fatigue, it also failed to put in place maximum work hours and minimum breaks and to monitor them.  It also failed to train its workers in recognising and understanding fatigue.  The District Court said that a starting position for a fine would have been $650,000 but for discounts for remorse, the company’s prior safety record, cooperation and its guilty plea.

In addition to the fine the company was also ordered to pay $80,000 reparation plus $9,300 financial costs to the deceased’s family.

It is worth noting that the employee was offered a lift home after the work shift, but declined because he wished to take the work vehicle to his home.  He was therefore not under instruction to drive the work vehicle after his shift, but that did not alter the company’s liability for his death.


Alan Knowsley

Health & Safety & Employment Lawyer