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Company prosecuted for using unsafe demolition practices

26 July 2012
Company prosecuted for using unsafe demolition practices

Wellington company C&M Transport Limited has been fined $10,000 after one of its employees was exposed to asbestos, live electricity and falling objects on a central city demolition site.

The Wellington District Court heard that the incident happened in January last year, when the company was engaged by Concrete Drilling and Cutting (1992) to demolish two buildings at 151-159 Willis Street.

This is the last of three sets of charges laid by the former Department of Labour around the demolition of the old Settlement Building. The building is owned by the Chow Brothers whose company was fined $24,000 in May for failing to keep an employee of their contractor, Concrete Drilling and Cutting, safe on site. Concrete Drilling and Cutting was also fined $20,000 for the same incident.

The excavator that C&M’s employee was using to demolish the building did not provide adequate protection for the operator. It did not have the correct falling objects protective structure fitted, and the front window and side door of the cab were also open, leaving the worker exposed to asbestos dust and falling objects.

“The employer exposed the employee to the potential of significant injury and health harm and showed total disregard for employer health and safety responsibilities,” says Southern Labour General Manager for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Jean Martin.

“The situation was avoidable and all practical steps were not taken to protect the employee. The electricity had not been disconnected from the site prior to demolition and testing identified that there was asbestos in the exterior sheeting that clad some of the building,” she says.

“It is extremely fortunate that the worker wasn’t injured or made seriously ill carrying out this risky demolition work.

“This was a very badly managed worksite with failure throughout the chain of companies involved.

“MBIE has Best Practice Guidelines for Demolition on its website which all demolition companies and employees should be aware of and understand,” Ms Martin says.


Notes to Editor
• C&M Transport Limited appeared in the Wellington District Court on Tuesday 24 July. They were charged with one charge under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. This states:
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.

• The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online.
• The Best Practice Guidelines for Demolition in New Zealand are available online.

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