Worker seriously injured after falling from unsafe scaffolding
Rotorua company A-Z Rigging and Scaffolding Limited was today fined $30,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $15,500 after a worker was seriously injured when he fell from a scaffolding plank that snapped.
The Rotorua District Court heard that the company was contracted to supply and install scaffolding and scaffolding planks at a local building site in July last year.
An employee of an engineering contractor who was working on the scaffolding fell 3.5 metres and sustained head injuries after the plank he was standing on snapped.
“Falls from any height can be deadly, so the victim is extremely lucky to still be alive,” says central region health and safety manager for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ona De Rooy.
Investigations revealed that the plank was riddled with soft-rot fungi and the company had also failed to fully secure the plank to the scaffolding.
“This accident is a timely reminder for companies to follow the correct procedures when erecting scaffolding, outlined in the Scaffold and Rigging NZ Incorporated Best Practice Guidelines for Scaffolding in NZ (2009),” says Ms De Rooy.
“A-Z should have followed a few simple but necessary procedures to prevent this this accident from happening. This includes regularly testing the planks by an approved method, recording when and how the planks are tested, and fillet stacking them to allow them to properly dry before storing.
“Our Best Practice Guidelines for Working at Height in New Zealand are also important reading for employers, contractors and employees who are required to work at height,” Ms De Rooy says.
Notes to Editor
- A-Z Rigging and Scaffolding Limited appeared in the Rotorua District Court today.
- A-Z Rigging and Scaffolding Limited was charged with two offences. One of these was under Section 18A(1) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, which states:
A person who hires, leases, or loans to another person plant that can be used in a place of work must—
(a) ascertain from the other person (so far as is practicable) before hiring, leasing, or loaning the plant—
(i) whether the plant is to be used in a place of work; and
(ii) if so, the intended use of the plant; and
(b) if he or she ascertains that it is to be used in a place of work, take all practicable steps to ensure that the plant is designed and made, and has been maintained, so that it is safe for its intended use
- The second charge was under Section 18A(3) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, which states:
In addition to the other obligations in this section, if a person who hires, leases, sells, or otherwise supplies to another person plant to be used in a place of work agrees to install or arrange the plant, the person must take all practicable steps to install or arrange the plant so that it is safe for its intended use.
- The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online
- 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.