Company fined for failing to prevent fall from height
Roofing company Metind Limited (formerly Metalcraft Industries Limited) has been fined $43,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $10,000 after an employee was seriously injured after falling more than three metres from a roof.
The Auckland District Court heard that on 9 June 2011 three employees of Metind Limited were working on a single storey Keith Hay residential home in Glen Innes, Auckland.
“While reaching down to secure a safe hold on the damp ridge of the roof, one of the employees slipped and fell more than three metres to the ground, fracturing his lower back, several ribs and damaging shoulder tendons and ligaments,” says the Department of Labour’s Northern General Manager John Howard.
The Department of Labour’s (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) investigation into the incident found that it could have been prevented if Metind Limited had planned a safe approach to working at height and put in place appropriate roof edge protection.
“The precautions taken by the employer fell short of what is required,” Mr Howard says.
“Preventing falls from height is a priority for the Department of Labour (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment). We expect everyone with staff or contractors working at height to actively manage this significant hazard,” he says.
The Department’s new Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height in New Zealand provide practical guidance about how to actively manage working at height to prevent harm.
To complement the guidelines the Department has also produced a series of six factsheets. These focus on:
- how to plan a safe approach to working at height
- how to select the right equipment for the job
- short duration work at height
- edge protection
- temporary work platforms
- total restraint system.
“All employers, contractors and employees who are required to work at height should read the guidelines and factsheets so they take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of those working at height. Doing nothing is not an option,” Mr Howard says.
Notes to Editor
- Metind Limited was charged with one offence 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.
- The Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height in New Zealand have been published as part of the Department of Labour’s three-year harm reduction campaign ‘Preventing Falls from Height’. The campaign is focused on raising awareness about working safely at height.
- The Preventing Falls from Height project is part of the Construction Sector Action Plan - one of five Sector Action Plans. These focus on the sectors with consistently high levels of workplace injury, disease and fatalities – construction, agriculture, manufacturing, forestry and fishing.