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Accident Leaves Worker A Paraplegic

A Napier company has been fined $17,500 after a worker was seriously injured in an accident last year.

Tamatea Foods Limited, which operates as a Pac 'n' Save supermarket was prosecuted this week by the Occupational Safety and Health Service. The accident occurred when a worker fell approximately 3.4 metres while working from a crate which was balanced on a forklift.

"The worker was balanced on an orange crate which was not secured to the forks of the forklift," said Murray Thomson, Service Manager, Hawkes Bay-East Coast, Occupational Safety and Health.

"The company could have avoided this tragedy by taking all practicable steps to ensure the safety of their worker. The company should have used an approved elevated work platform specifically designed for elevating people."

As a result of the accident the worker suffered serious harm injuries. He received a laceration to his head and immediately following the incident could not feel or move his legs. He is now a paraplegic. The total fine went to the victim.

"In this case the Judge made it very clear that employers have a duty to actively seek out hazards and eliminate them, isolate them or minimise them," said Mr Thomson.

"He said that it has to be brought home to the defendant and other companies that proactivity and having proper procedures in place for employees is absolutely crucial in the workplace."

The inwards goods manager of the company, who was also the person operating the forklift, was sentenced earlier this year and fined $900 for his part in the accident.

"It was demonstrated that the manager was not operating the forklift as per the required operating procedures," said Mr Thomson.

"Forklift drivers must acknowledge the responsibility they have as operators and ensure they use the correct attachments which are approved and certified.

"New Zealanders being harmed and killed at work is simply unacceptable.

"Everyone has the right to go to work and be safe. Companies must ensure that workplace hazards are identified and controlled correctly, and that their safety systems are constantly reviewed and updated."


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