Skip to Content, Skip to Navigation

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

From the courts


LYTTELTON PORT COMPANY LTD was fined $63,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $75,000 after an employee was killed when he was thrown from a scissor lift when an outrigger support failed to extend. Three of the outrigger housings were found to be clogged with compressed coal dust, the platform was extended beyond its limit, and there was no level indicator (Christchurch DC, 6 August 2015).

NZ WOODTEX LTD was fined $15,000 on a s6 charge and $1000 on a s25 charge, and ordered to pay reparation of $35,000, after a casual worker on the outfeed of an edger lost a thumb and severed the tendons of all fingers when he tried to clear a jam. An interlocked guard to the lid covering the rotating blades would have prevented access. Another serious harm injury six months earlier was not reported (Hamilton DC, 11 August 2015).

MCKECHNIE ALUMINIUM SOLUTIONS LTD was fined $33,000 and ordered to pay $15,000 in reparation after an employee received serious burns following an explosion in the foundry department during a pour of molten aluminium. The company should have better trained and monitored staff to eliminate high-risk practices, and provided PPE appropriate to the risk (New Plymouth DC, 18 August 2015).

STEELCAP HOLDINGS LTD T/A SANDERS PREMIER was fined $25,000 and ordered to pay $8000 in reparation after an employee’s finger was amputated while cutting timber on a table saw bench. The machine had no hood guard or riving knife, and the push stick provided was not used (North Shore DC, 18 August 2015).

YAKKA CONTRACTING LTD was fined $8607 after an employee working at an Auckland primary school broke up large sheets of asbestos-containing cladding, potentially releasing asbestos fibres into the air. Better training and supervision was required (Auckland DC, 19 August 2015).

Retailer THE WILL DEVELOPMENT LTD T/A MOBILE STATION was fined a total of $70,000 for multiple breaches of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 and of the Electricity Act 1992 for supplying mobile phone chargers that were not configured for NZ power outlets, and for supplying adapter plugs which were unapproved and electrically unsafe because they did not offer adequate protection from contact with live parts (Auckland DC, 28 August 2015).

FLETCHER STEEL T/A PACIFIC COILCOATERS was fined $45,937.50 and ordered to pay reparation of $17,500 after an employee’s thumb was amputated when he was cleaning rollers with a rag before start-up. The rollers began moving. The perimeter guard had been removed (Auckland DC, 25 September 2015).

TRUESTONE LTD was fined $50,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $10,000 after an employee suffered fractures and concussion when he fell from a roof of a house under demolition. The roof lacked edge protection, he had not been given a harness or other fall protection, and hadn’t been trained in demolition work (Auckland DC, 20 November 2015).

FIREWOOD DIRECT (MOTUEKA) LTD was fined $25,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $40,000 and a further $836.46 in lost earnings after an employee’s hand was crushed, three fingers lost and forearm degloved when he inadvertently activated an unguarded log splitter ram while trying to clear a jam (Nelson DC, 25 November 2015).

MURRAY CROSLAND was fined $42,525 and ordered to pay reparation of $20,000 after an employee lost his right thumb in an unguarded firewood cutting machine when his arm was caught by the machine’s log clamp and chainsaw (Christchurch DC, 1 December 2015).

ERIC GERRITSEN was fined $115,000 for obstructing a WorkSafe inspector during investigations following the collapse of an inflatable slide at the Masterton A&P Show in February. Six children were taken to hospital after falling from a height of up to 12 metres. Over a period of months he failed to provide information he was asked for, and he ignored email and phone messages (Hamilton DC, 3 December 2015).

BENCHMARK CONSTRUCTION LTD was fined $43,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $40,000 after a 16-year-old casual worker in Kaiapoi was struck by a bucket attachment that came loose from an excavator. He suffered a compound leg fracture with nerve damage, cuts and bruising. The manual safety pin had not been inserted and was found loose on the floor of the excavator’s cab (Christchurch DC, 10 December 2015).

KAREN ANNE MCLANACHAN and KENNETH RAE MCLANACHAN, the owners of a farm near Gisborne, were fined $20,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $50,000 after their farm manager broke his neck and sustained permanent brain damage when his quad bike hit a large tree while he was rounding up his dogs. He was not wearing a helmet. The key failure was not having hazard identification and controls in place, resulting in a lack of clear direction that anyone operating a quad bike must wear the helmet that had been provided (Gisborne DC, 14 December 2015).

BLAKELY CONSTRUCTION LTD was fined $45,000 for failing to identify and manage asbestos at a Christchurch demolition site. The company had hired an asbestos contractor to remove asbestos-containing roofing sheets. The contractor notified Blakely of further asbestos contamination on site but Blakely instructed its staff to carry on with demolition. As a result, further roofing sheets were uncovered and broken up (Christchurch DC, 15 December 2015).

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH PROPERTY TRUSTEE (NZ) LTD was fined $46,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $40,000 after a woman attending a team building event fell three metres at Tui Ridge Park near Rotorua. She was being belayed to the ground by colleagues who had been instructed by Tui Ridge staff. One of them lost control and pulled the wrong lever, causing her to fall. She suffered spinal fractures and a spinal cord injury. The level of instructor qualification and supervision was found to be inadequate (Rotorua DC, 15 December 2015).

TOKYO FOOD COMPANY LTD was fined $52,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $76,994 after an employee at the Lower Hutt company was killed when he became trapped between a cross beam on a racking unit and the console of the forklift he was operating. He and other staff were not adequately trained to use forklifts, there was no system inplace to identify hazards, and no established rules for forklift operation (Lower Hutt DC, 22 December 2015).


The need for PCBUs working on the same site to consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other has been well illustrated in the prosecution of two parties brought after a partially welded lintel fell onto a contractor’s legs when the props holding it up were removed.

The principal, Hughes Partners Ltd, required site manager approval before props on a lintel were removed, but it failed to check its subcontractor was adhering to this system. The subcontractor, Greta Construction Ltd, placed too much reliance on verbal communication, which proved to be inconsistent on the site.

Hughes pleaded guilty to a section 18 charge and was fined $50,625 and ordered to pay reparation of $18,000. Greta took no part in court proceedings and was found guilty on formal proof, also under s18. It was fined $120,000 with reparations of $27,000 (North Shore DC, 14 October 2015).

The October 2014 incident in Orewa occurred during the construction of a residential block. As main contractor, Hughes contracted Greta to install propping around concrete panel work, as there were more than 200 precast concrete panels to be erected, including lintels. In turn, Greta contracted two men to provide labour. Another company was contracted by Hughes to complete the steel structure and do related welding.

The procedure for installing a lintel was to use a crane to lower it onto wooden propping. The crane continued to hold it while the steel plates on the lintel were tack welded onto the wall plates as a temporary measure to enable the welders and the crane to move on to other work. The propping remained in place until the welders returned to complete the weld.

On this occasion the tack welds were completed before it was realised the lintel was positioned at the wrong height. The crane moved on and most workers went to lunch, except for three who worked to reset this and other lintels at the correct height.

After lunch the Greta director instructed the two contracted workers to remove the props from the lintel that had only been tack welded. The welds failed and the lintel, weighing over a tonne, landed on one of the men and crushed the base of a ladder the other was standing on.

The first man suffered leg bone fractures and multiple ligament injuries, putting him in hospital for two months and limiting his mobility for several months after. The second man had a sore back for two weeks.

At a toolbox meeting two days earlier Hughes had discussed the removal of props and emphasised there was to be no removing of props without the approval of one of the site managers. Greta’s director was present but the two men subsequently injured were not.

Practicable steps open to Greta included conducting a risk assessment of the removal of props from lintels, providing training to the two contracted men to enable them to identify whether a lintel was tack welded or fully welded, or asking the welders if welding was complete.

“An agreed work plan would not necessarily involve any cost to Greta and would have been considerably more effective than relying on verbal communication, which was inconsistent on the site,” noted Judge SJ O’Driscoll.

There was no written or other formal procedure to enable the welders to advise Hughes or Greta when welding was completed on a lintel, which the judge described as a further example of ineffective reliance on verbal communication.

Practicable steps available included a permit to work system requiring authorisation from welders before prop removal, warning signs for tack-welded lintels, and/or clearly marking fully tacked lintels. Also, there was no management of the risk in adjusting the height of a lintel which was tack-welded.

While Hughes had imposed the requirement that site manager approval was required before lintel props were removed, it had clearly not worked. “It is incumbent on any principal to ensure that it approves and continues to check the proposed processes of a contractor … Hughes was not prudent in that respect.”

The judge was particularly concerned that neither defendant had taken steps to ensure that the two injured men were aware of the welding processes for lintels. “It would have been a very simple measure to educate these employees and improve their appreciation of the risks involved.”

Thomson Reuters

comments powered by Disqus

From Safeguard Magazine

Table of Contents