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McDonalds to pay $8,000 after worker falls 2.8mtrs

McDonalds to pay $8,000 after worker falls 2.8 metres

A McDonalds restaurant in Whakatane was sentenced to pay $8,000 today after a worker fell 2.8 metres while trying to retrieve happy meal toys earlier this year.

Howard and Osborne Ltd (trading as McDonalds) was sentenced in the Auckland District Court after being prosecuted by the Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH) for failing to protect the safety of a worker.

"New Zealanders being harmed and killed at work is simply unacceptable. After the accident, the victim was off work for almost four months," said Murray Thompson, OSH Service Manager Taupo-Eastern Bay Of Plenty.

"The worker suffered a dislocated and broken left ankle, fractured left leg, bruising to her upper arm, shoulder and back and a ruptured achilles tendon when she fell through the ceiling at the restaurant.

"The accident happened when the injured worker climbed an aluminium ladder to the loft storage area in the premises to obtain more happy meal toys. While searching through the loft she was making her way around a stack of cartons. She ducked under a beam, took two steps forward and then the ceiling gave way. She fell approximately 2.8 metres, landing in the internal passage behind the kitchen on the ground floor.

"The company should have identified the hazard of the risk of a fall in the loft area and informed the employees of the hazard accordingly. This could have included erecting barriers in the loft preventing access to areas without suitable flooring and placing appropriate signage.

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Judge Toomey noted that this was a case where the hazards could have been readily identified had a responsible employer looked at the work situation its employees were in and thought seriously about it. The hazards were not difficult to identify; in fact they were quite easy if someone had addressed safety in that area.

The defendant was given credit for an early guilty plea, no previous convictions, remorse and remedial steps taken, and assistance provided to the victim in her recovery.

"Everyone has the right to go to work and be safe. Companies must ensure that workplace hazards are identified and controlled correctly, and that their safety systems are constantly reviewed and updated," said Mr Thompson.

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