Company fined $64k for failing to protect employee from injury
Affco New Zealand Limited (Affco) has been fined $56,250 after one of its employees fell nearly seven metres in Affco’s Horotiu premises. Affco was also ordered to pay reparation of $8,000 as a result of the accident on 26 March 2011.
The Hamilton District Court heard that in March last year an employee sustained significant injuries – multiple compound fractures of the left leg and fractured toes of both feet – as a result of falling almost seven metres into a carton well area while working. A risk of falling had previously been identified in 2005 when the premises had undergone significant refurbishment. However, the preventative measures taken, including installing a gate at the top of the well- shaft and providing employees with a fall arrest harness, were not sufficient to prevent the fall on 26 March.
Affco was charged with failing (as an employer) to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee while at work.
“While Affco had taken some steps to mitigate the risk of falling by installing the gate and fall arrest safety harness, the fact is that these measures were neither managed well nor were they adequate at any time,” says MBIE Labour Group’s General Manager Northern, John Howard.
“No employee goes to work to be injured. The onus is on the employer to ensure employees are not exposed to harm and potential injury – and in this case the injuries were significant. Today’s decision sends a clear message to Affco that it needs to both understand the responsibility it holds to its employees and deliver on it,” Mr Howard says.
Notes to Editor
- Affco Limited was convicted on one charge under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
- Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 states: Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to—
(a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and
(b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and
(c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and
(d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—
(i) in their place of work; or
(ii) near their place of work and under the employer's control; and
(e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.
- The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online.