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Safety gear must be fit for purpose

Identifying a workplace risk, but not following up to ensure it is controlled is bad health and safety business practice according to WorkSafe.

The comment follows the sentencing of Agility Building Solutions Limited in the Christchurch District Court yesterday after a painter was injured in the construction company’s own workplace. WorkSafe says the case is a clear example of workplaces not ensuring safety gear is actually safe for use.

The injured painter, bought in as a contractor to complete some work at Agility’s own business premises was given incorrectly installed mobile scaffolding to work from. On the first day of the job the painter fell two metres from it to the concrete floor below landing head first and sustaining multiple fractures to his skull, face and ribs. He suffered major brain trauma as a result.

While Agility had identified a fall from the platform as a risk and noted that it needed to be correctly installed, they had no systems in place to ensure that a pre-work check took place to make sure the safety gear was installed correctly and fit for purpose.

WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions Simon Humphries said:

“Temporary work platforms, like the mobile scaffolding used in this instance, should be constructed by a competent person and should be suitable for carrying out the work required of it.”

“This case is also a reminder of the obligations for those employing subcontractors to complete jobs. It is reasonable that the painter expected the safety equipment supplied by Agility Building to be safe and the law required Agility to ensure that it was.”

Following the incident, Agility Building put in place a pre-start check list for the scaffolding that requires manager sign off before the scaffolding can be used and provided remedial training to all workers on how to assemble the scaffold correctly.


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