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Sentencing Sends A Message To Installers

WorkSafe New Zealand has prosecuted a business for failing to play its part before a worker suffered significant injuries on the job in a fall from height.

The 54-year-old worker was replacing a roof at Auckland’s Glenfield Intermediate School in mid-January 2020. He fell 3.6 metres onto the concrete ground below, after trying to steady himself by holding a guardrail that detached due to improper installation by TPL Access Limited.

The victim sustained a hematoma by his left eye, two fractured ribs, a fractured sternum, fractured vertebrae, and multiple pelvic bone fractures. He spent 10 days in hospital and did not fully recover for more than a year.

WorkSafe’s investigation found TPL Access Limited should have ensured the roof edge protection was installed in line with the manufacturer's guidelines and industry standards, by ensuring it was safe and fit for use.

In her decision, North Shore District Court Judge Anna Fitzgibbon said “the way in which the roof edge protection was installed exposed the victim to a risk of death or serious injury from a fall from height”. Judge Fitzgibbon described TPL Access Limited as having “a moderate to high level of culpability” for its actions.

WorkSafe says the victim was lucky to survive the incident.

“This case is a clear example that everyone has responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act, including businesses upstream from the work itself. If you contribute to unsafe work you will be held to account,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Danielle Henry.

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“There is a duty to consider the health and safety of the people who will ultimately be reliant on your product when installing, building, or commissioning structures for use at work. Upstream duties sit with the business which has the most influence over the matter at hand, to make sure all workers at all steps throughout the chain are kept healthy and safe.”

Background

  • TPL Access Limited was sentenced in a reserved decision of the North Shore District Court
  • A fine of $100,000 was imposed, to be paid over five years
  • Reparations of $43,000 were ordered to be paid to the victim immediately
  • TPL was charged under sections 43(2)(b), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
    • Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the way in which plant or structure, namely edge protection, is installed, constructed or commissioned ensures that the plant or structure is without risks to the health and safety of persons who use the plant or structure for a purpose for which it is installed, constructed or commissioned, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed persons to a risk of death or serious injury from a fall from height.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.

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