21st February 2014  Auckland company Tree Adventures Limited was today fined $24,500 and ordered to pay reparations of $80,000 after a man fell 13.5 metres to his death while attempting one of its high-rope activity courses in March last year.

Tree Adventures pleaded guilty in the Waitakere District Court to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Clifford Brabet.

Mr Brabet was pulled backwards and fell off a “surfboard” that he was using to travel between two platforms, after a pulley that he had incorrectly put in place detached from a wire.

A Tree Adventures staff member was stationed on the ground nearby. The staff member began to warn Mr Brabet but he stepped onto the “surfboard” before he could do so.

The manufacturer of the pulley system in its guidance material shows it being used with a carabiner and lanyard as a secondary attachment point. Two other operators who offer similar high-rope courses follow that approach.

WorkSafe’s chief investigator, Keith Stewart, said Tree Adventures was aware of the practice of using a second attachment point, and was planning to adopt it.

“The company did many things right. It gave its customers a 30-minute safety briefing; its staff radioed for help immediately following the accident and performed CPR while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

“But relying on a single point of attachment was foolhardy. It meant a simple mistake in putting the pulley in place could have fatal consequences. Tree Adventures had a duty to do more to protect its customers,” said Keith Stewart.

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