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Roof fall costs house moving company

19 August 2013

Roof fall costs house moving company

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.

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 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.

“It was an obvious hazard that had not been addressed by the defendant in any way. There was no specific training about health and safety when having to move in icy conditions. [The employee] should not have set foot on the roof,” he said.

In relation to the failing to notify the Ministry of the serious harm accident, Judge Behrens noted that the defendant company “simply did not carry out its responsibility under the Act”.

Section 6, Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 – maximum fine $250,000
Employers to ensure safety of employees
Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to—

(a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and
(b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and
(c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and
(d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—
(i) in their place of work; or
(ii) near their place of work and under the employer's control; and
(e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.

Section 25, Recording and notification of accidents and serious harm
(3) If there occurs any serious harm or accident to which this subsection applies, the employer, self-employed person, or principal concerned must,—

(a) as soon as possible after the occurrence becomes known to the employer, self-employed person, or principal, notify the Secretary of the occurrence; and

(b) within 7 days after the occurrence, or, if the occurrence is not known to the employer, self-employed person, or principal within that period, as soon as possible after it becomes known, give the Secretary written notice, in the prescribed manner, of the circumstances of the occurrence.


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