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Trimming trees next to powerlines is a dangerous job

An employer has been sentenced to 60 hours community work and fined for failing to keep a worker safe while he was trimming tree branches next to a powerline.

A casual worker hired by Bradford John Dibble was seriously injured in the incident. Dibble was sentenced at the Waitakere District Court yesterday and fined $65,000, as well as ordered to pay $20,000 in reparation to the worker on a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. He was sentenced to 60 hours community work on a charge under the Electricity Act 1992.

In October 2016 as the worker was trimming branches with an electric saw, a branch fell onto a powerline. The worker sustained an electric shock as a result and fell from the metal ladder he was standing on. He sustained a number of injuries, including a broken shoulder, back injuries and a concussion.

WorkSafe says the incident is a reminder to all property owners to engage people qualified for the job at hand, after its investigation found Dibble gave little consideration to the risks involved with working in close proximity to powerlines.

It also found Dibble had not consulted documentation about working at height, tree trimming or working near electrical lines, and there was no hazard plan in place. Equipment provided to the worker including a metal ladder and saws used for trimming, were unsafe for use near electrical lines.

WorkSafe Chief Inspector Investigations Steve Kelly says the potential for accidents and serious injuries in tree maintenance work around power lines is very high.

“An arborist should have been contacted, but instead the employer cut corners and hired someone who wasn’t qualified for the job.

“Dibble was undertaking, controlling and supervising dangerous work he had no expertise in and as a result he put himself and the worker in serious danger.”

Bradford John Dibble

- Bradford John Dibble was charged under sections 36(1) (a), 48(1) and (2)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
o Failed to comply with a duty to ensure the health and safety of a worker, so far as reasonably practicable.
- A fine of $65,000 was imposed.
- Reparation of $20,000 was ordered.
- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $300,000.

- Bradford John Dibble was also charged under section 163c of the Electricity Act 1992.
o Taking an action knowing that the action is reasonably likely to cause serious harm and failing to prevent so far as reasonably practicable the serious harm.
- Sentenced to 60 hours community work.
- The maximum penalty is two years imprisonment, a fine not exceeding $100,000 or both.


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