Preventable fall from height leaves worker seriously injured
Boat building company Alloy Yachts International Limited was today fined $39,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $14,000 after one of its workers fell nearly four metres, and was seriously injured.
The Waitakere District Court heard that the accident happened in January this year, when the worker was installing a handrail at the top of some stairs on a yacht. As he was descending the stairs, he lost his footing and fell down the stairs. His momentum carried him across a swim deck, and he fell 3.7 metres onto a concrete floor below.
“The injuries sustained as a result of this accident were very serious: multiple fractures to his hip and spine, a fracture to his neck, and several broken ribs,” says Northern health and safety manager of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), John Howard.
“The employer failed to take appropriate steps to protect the safety of its workers. This is simply not good enough,” Mr Howard says.
“MBIE’s investigation into the incident found that Alloy Yachts had removed a lifeline which could have prevented the fall. On top of that, we discovered that scaffolding around the stern section of the hull also failed to meet the required standards to prevent falls.
“This company is a leader in its field and has an international reputation. It needs to bring its health and safety management to the same standard,” Mr Howard says.
“Preventing falls from height is a priority for MBIE. No matter what height people are working at, there is risk involved and MBIE expects everyone with staff or contractors to actively manage this significant hazard,” he says.
MBIE recently released new Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height in New Zealand and these provide practical guidance about how to actively manage working at height to prevent harm.
“All employers, contractors and employees who are required to work at height should read the guidelines to ensure 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
- Alloy Yachts International 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 Labour Group’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.
- The Scaffold and Rigging NZ Incorporated (SARNZ) "Best Practice Guidelines for Scaffolding in NZ" (2009) (‘the Guidelines’) are widely used and accepted in the scaffold industry in New Zealand as representing current best practice. The Guidelines incorporate relevant Australian and New Zealand Standards including Standard AS/NZS 4576 Guidelines for Scaffolding (‘AS/NZS 4576 – 1995’).
- The Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height in New Zealand have been published as part of the Department of Labour’s (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) 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.