Project management company prosecuted for failing to ensure safety on worksite
Wellington project management company Icon Projects Limited has been fined $13,000 after it failed to ensure adequate health and safety systems were in place on a worksite it was managing.
The Wellington District Court heard last week that Icon Projects had been engaged by Victoria University in 2010 to project manage the upgrade of international student accommodation across several of its Wellington properties. This included managing the tender process for the outsourcing of additional work.
Icon Projects failed to follow the University’s tendering processes when hiring a contractor, which meant it effectively took on the responsibilities of a principal contractor.
“Icon Projects accepted inadequate health and safety management policies from the contractor it had engaged to install a recovery/heatpump system at one of the properties it was responsible for,” says Southern General Manager for the Labour Group of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Jean Martin.
“These were far from meeting the standard of the University’s robust health and safety system, and were never submitted to the University for review.
“MBIE’s guidance document a ‘Principal’s Guide to Contracting’ is a must read for project managers. It provides advice on meeting obligations under the Health and Safety in Employment ACT 1992 and sets out the broad process for building health and safety into contract management,” Ms Martin says.
“It is unacceptable that this situation occurred and exposed employees in the worksite to significant risk. Project managers must realise that they have duties and responsibilities regarding health and safety in the workplaces that they are managing. Although in such circumstances they are in the middle of the hiring chain that does not absolve them from ensuring safe and healthy workplaces.”
In February 2011, an employee of the contractor fell 6.5 metres from a roof, fracturing his kneecap and chipping a bone in one of his ankles.
“This preventable accident was a result of careless health and safety planning – no fall protection measures had been put in place to protect the worker. This is totally unacceptable workplace practice – workers should not be injured in the workplace,” Ms Martin says.
“Icon Projects did not carry out an onsite induction with the contractor, nor conduct regular inspections to ensure the correct equipment was being used for working at height. Those actions are required and project management firms should be aware of their responsibilities.
“This case is unique, and it serves as a warning to all project managers and principals to be aware of their health and safety duties and responsibilities on their worksites,” Ms Martin says.
Notes to Editor
- Icon Projects Limited appeared in the Wellington District Court on Tuesday 24 July.
- The company was charged with one offence under Section 15 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act 1992) which relates to the duties of employers to people who are not employees. It states:
- Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of any employee while at work harms any other person.
- The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online.
- MBIE’s ‘A Principal’s Guide to Contracting’ provides advice on meeting obligations under the HSE ACT 1992. It sets out the broad process for building health and safety into contract management, which can then be adapted to specific contractual situations or industries.