Back-breaking Demolition Case A Credit To Victim’s Tenacity
The need to protect workers, and to be clear about health and safety practices on work sites, are lessons from a botched demolition that severely injured a labour hire worker in Auckland two years ago.
The worker, Mosese Foketi, was employed to do waste removal. However, he was involved in demolishing a wall, which collapsed and trapped him under a large slab of clay blocks and mortar in September 2021.
Mr Foketi suffered multiple injuries – breaking his back in several places, along with his foot and shoulder. Last year Mr Foketi spoke publicly about the toll the incident had taken, and that he had been pressured to tell WorkSafe he wasn’t doing demolition work.
WorkSafe’s subsequent investigation found roles and responsibilities were not clearly defined or communicated on site, and risk management and supervision had fallen short.
Mac Group Limited, which oversaw the demolition, and its labour hire company JNP Construction Limited, were both charged by WorkSafe in September 2022 and sentenced today in the Auckland District Court.
“We’re pleased to get a resolution in this case for Mr Foketi, who hasn’t been able to work since the incident. He lives with ongoing pain from injuries that are absolutely not his fault – and we’re glad the court agrees,” says WorkSafe’s acting national manager of investigations, Paul West.
“Demolition is dangerous work. This case is a lesson for all businesses and organisations to have effective health and safety measures firmly in place to protect all workers from this kind of harm. It’s also a lesson for businesses and organisations to be honest and upfront with WorkSafe, because the truth will emerge if you are failing your workers on health and safety.
“While labour hire workers might feel there is a power imbalance in their employment arrangements, they are as entitled to the same health and safety protection as any other worker in Aotearoa. If you have concerns about the safety of your workplace, speak up if you feel able to do so. If not to your employer, then to a health and safety representative, someone you trust, or to WorkSafe directly,” says Paul West.