Not having a protective work environment has cost one New Zealand employer some money.
As the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment recently reported, serious injuries sustained by a Christchurch laborer led to a fine for his employer after he fell 15 feet from an unstable work platform.
Berger Heating Limited was fined $52,000 but this was reduced by the Judge to $15,000 given the company’s financial situation. The company was also ordered to pay reparations of $15,000 in the Christchurch District Court following the incident in June 2012.
The court was told that a pair of employees of Berger Heating Limited were working on a property at Maffeys Road which required repairs to the flue, as part of the clean heat program.
Company Disregarded Guidelines For Working at Height
“Berger Heating was sent guidelines for working at height and on ladders by the project management office, however they disregarded them,” stated the Ministry’s Canterbury Rebuild Health and Safety Program Director Kathryn Heiler.
“There was already scaffolding in place around the property, so the company chose to use a stepladder on the top platform of scaffolding to reach the roof. This was completely unsafe and would cause a ‘see-saw’ effect when weight was placed on the top of the ladder.”
As the employee was exiting the roof, the stepladder ‘kicked out’ and he fell approximately 15 feet. The fall resulted in head injuries and six fractured bones – a broken eye socket, nose, leg, knee cap, ankle and wrist.
Safety Needs to Be a Priority
“Safety must be a priority in the Canterbury rebuild if we are to avoid incidents like these, which nearly cost a worker his life,” Heiler went on to say.
According to Heiler, falls from height happen far too often on construction sites and that’s why the Ministry has a Preventing Falls from Height campaign in place. Between July 2012 and January 2013 health and safety inspectors visited 150 construction sites in Canterbury and took 70 enforcement actions.
“There are clear guidelines on best practice for working at height in New Zealand – it is crucial employers and read and understand these, and put steps in place to prevent serious accidents,” Heiler added.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.