19th August 2013

The Housemovers (Rotorua) Limited has been fined $54,000 and has to pay the victim $40,000 after a worker was seriously injured when he fell from the icy roof of a school building he was moving in July 2012.

Two charges laid under NZ Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

Judge Michael Behrens QC delivered a reserved sentencing decision last Thursday on two charges laid by the Ministry under section 6 and section 25(3)(a) of the NZ Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee while at work  and failing to notify the Ministry of the incident as soon as the Defendant was aware of the serious harm accident.  The company had pleaded guilty to both charges at an earlier hearing.

The victim fell four metres from the roof of the building while attempting to untangle telephone lines during the relocation of a school building.  The company failed to identify the hazard of ice on the roof when dealing with tangled wires and failed to properly train its employee in the use of a safety harness and lanyard, including the use of safe anchor points. As a result of the fall, the victim sustained a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg.

Judge Behrens noted that the company had health and safety policies in place to deal with the circumstances of the incident, but said it was the company’s responsibility to have an employee in the position where he simply could not ignore the availability and use of safety equipment.

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