An employee has fallen to his death through an insecure hatch. The District Court has convicted the employer under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to ensure the safety of the employee while at work. The Court held that the incident was foreseeable, and the employer had failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the hatch was safe. The Court noted that the accident could have been prevented if the hatch had been guarded by rails.

The Court fined the employer $48,000. The Court took into account the fact that the employer had paid the employee’s family nearly $54,000 since the death, and had also paid for other employees to fly to his tangi, which the company helped contribute to. The Court further ordered the employer to pay the employee’s partner $35,000 in reparations.

Employers must take all practical steps to prevent harm coming to employees (and others). Make sure you check your workplace to identify all hazards, then eliminate or minimise them. A failure to do so can have tragic and expensive results.