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Low Court Fines May Lead To More Accidents

07 December 2006

Low Court Fines In Safety Cases Undermine Intention of Parliament

"By imposing minimal fines in health and safety cases the Courts are undermining the intent of Parliament and contributing to conditions which may result in further accidents and deaths," CTU president Ross Wilson said today.

"The $10,000 fine imposed yesterday by the District Court in the Fromont case showed complete disregard for the increased maximum fine of $250,000 fixed by Parliament in 2002."

"This was a very serious case of failure by the employer which resulted in horrific injuries to Chris Fromont and this should have been reflected in the penalty imposed. It is even arguable that the more serious $500,000 maximum should have applied in this case."

A key element of the Health and Safety in Employment Act has been that the prospect of high fines will provide a deterrent and incentive to the minority of employers who demonstrate the serious failure to comply with their legal obligations, Ross Wilson said.

"There is no doubt that low fines like this will encourage some employers to disregard the law and more serious accident will inevitably occur."

"As the Department of Labour official has commented the shredder machine was a disaster waiting to happen."

"The CTU will be seeking a meeting with the Chief Judge of the District Court and will be supporting an appeal against this sentence by the Department of Labour," Ross Wilson said.

ENDS

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