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Company and director fined for failing to report accident

MEDIA ReleaSE
9 August 2012
Company and director fined for failing to report accident that left worker paralysed

Auckland carpentry company Five Star Homes NZ Limited and its sole director have each been fined for failing to notify the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) of a serious workplace accident that left a worker paralysed.

The Auckland District Court today fined the company $5,000 after it failed to notify MBIE of the accident that happened at its Remuera worksite in August 2011. The company’s director Mr Lei Chen was also fined $5,000 for failing to notify MBIE after being expressly told to do so.

The court heard that the worker, who had been subcontracted by Five Star Homes, was injured after falling 2.7 metres from the roof of a building he was working on, suffering permanent spinal injuries which have left him paralysed from the chest down.

All employers and contractors are legally required to report serious harm incidents to MBIE as soon as possible after the event and then follow-up with written notice within seven days.

“AA Quality Building Service Limited, the principal contractor who engaged Five Star Homes, instructed Mr Chen to notify MBIE of the accident immediately after it happened. However, he waited two months to do so, by which time MBIE had already been made aware of the accident by ACC – this type of behaviour is simply not acceptable and MBIE has zero tolerance towards those who engage in it,” says Northern health and safety manager for the MBIE, John Howard.

“MBIE takes reporting very seriously and we have a fundamental expectation that we are notified when serious harm incidents occur in a workplace.

“If we aren’t notified, then we aren’t able to properly investigate the accident to determine how it happened, who is responsible and, of critical importance, how best to prevent similar accidents occurring in the future.

“All employers should take this prosecution as a warning – non-reporting of serious harm accidents is a requirement not an option,” Mr Howard says.

ENDS

Notes to Editor
• Five Star Homes NZ Limited and its director Mr Lei Chen appeared in the Auckland District Court today.
• Five Star Homes NZ Limited and its director Mr Lei Chen were each charged with one offence under Section 25(3)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, which states:
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.
• The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online
• Read more information about the serious harm and accident notification process on our website www.dol.govt.nz

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