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Scaffolding company fined for safety failures

16 July 2013

Failing to erect safe scaffolding has cost an Auckland scaffolding company a $20,000 fine and $7000 reparation to the victim.

Titirangi Scaffolding Limited pleaded guilty in the Waitakere District Court last week to one charge of failing to install or arrange the scaffolding so that it was safe to use.

The company had been contracted to erect the scaffolding on a residential renovation site. It had not properly secured scaffold planks on a sloping access platform to prevent against creep, movement, horizontal displacement or uplift.

In September last year, the homeowner fell approximately 5 metres onto the ground below after the plank she stood on gave way. She sustained a broken shoulder and bruising to her face, neck back and abdomen. She spent two days in hospital following the fall.

“The failure to secure the planks in accordance with Scaffolding guidelines and New Zealand standards was not picked up in four inspections by a director of the company,” Keith Stewart, Chief Inspector Investigations for the Health and Safety Group said.

“That’s a woeful lack of attention to a major hazard which has caused a serious injury. The homeowner had a right to expect that this equipment would be fit for use, but the company’s failures have resulted in her suffering needless serious injury.”

The Ministry has a Preventing Falls from Height project in operation. It is one of a series of harm reduction programmes which are founded on three principles – engage by involving the sectors under the microscope, educate by raising awareness, and enforce where necessary.

“Our Health and Safety Inspectors are reporting they’re seeing a noticeable improvement in fall prevention behaviour on construction sites as a result of the programme, but there are still companies that need to step up as this case shows,” Mr Stewart said.

Note to editors

Titirangi Scaffolding was charged under Section 18A(3) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

18A Duties of persons selling or supplying plant for use in place of work

(3) 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.

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