15 October 2013
District Court Decision Wrong on Charanpreet Dhaliwal's Death
The decision yesterday by the Waitakere District Court that the employer of murdered security guard Charanpreet Dhaliwal did not need to take further steps to ensure his safety lowers the bar for all workers making them all less safe, CTU President Helen Kelly said today.
“The agreed facts included in the judgement show little care was taken when Mr Dhaliwal was engaged including an unclear induction process, no regular system for checking, no easy method of communications and insufficient scrutiny of the employees ability to safety undertake the job, yet the Court has said all of this is acceptable."
"It even finds the because the communication of the numerous security issues on the site had not been properly examined between Fulton Hogan and the Security Company, this was excusable."
Helen Kelly says "effectively, this decision says not having a system, employing someone on the day, leaving them alone in the dark unchecked until four in the morning and using some shonkyuncertain induction process meets the requirements of the Health and Safety Act – in doing so the Judge has effectively endorsed the worst kind of sloppy practice, and this wasdespite an industry expert saying it was not up to industry standard."
“We know from the Health and Safety Taskforce that the District Courts are failing to properly interpret the Health and Safety Act and do not have sufficient numbers of cases to build expertise in this area. The Taskforce recommends a speciality judiciary be established trained to do this work, but that will be too late for Charanpreet. If the test of all practicable steps is a few quick words on a dark night to take care – then any employer is likely to meet it," Helen Kelly said.
“We have here a young man with little experience, dead after one night at work on a remote building site after a 20 minute induction from a young man who himself had only one night experience and now we have a judge saying the law says this is acceptable. Far from enforcing the positive duty to actively take steps to prevent him from harm, this judge has created an intolerably low threshold of care," says Helen Kelly.
Charanpreet's mother is still in New Zealand following the unsuccessful prosecution of the man accused of his murder.
Family spokesperson Jafjit Singh said “Mrs Kaur is devastated by yesterdays findings by the Court. She now believes there are serious problems with the New Zealand justice system that no one has been found accountable for what on any measure, was a dangerous job her son undertook that night."
"She will return to India a broken women if no efforts are made to recognise the wrong done to her boy. It appears no one wants to take responsibility for what happened to Charanpreet and it is time the New Zealand Government changed the system," said Mr Singh.
The CTU is calling on the Ministry to appeal the decision.