Director fined $25,000 for ignoring prohibition notice
NOTE: This conviction was quashed on appeal. The Judge found that the inspector gave the defendant implied consent to remove the ramp.
Ranjit Singh, the sole Director of Nihal Homes (NZ) Limited, was convicted and fined $25,000 on Tuesday at the Auckland District Court under section 43 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act. Mr Singh ignored a prohibition notice issued after asbestos was found at a worksite in Symonds Street.
On 14 March 2014 a WorkSafe inspector visited the worksite after being notified by the Auckland Environmental Health team that the worksite had tested positive for asbestos. Mr Singh was at the worksite when the prohibition notice was issued, where it was explained to him that no more work could continue. He was advised of this on two more occasions.
The prohibition notice was clearly visible. It was attached to a fence around the worksite and stated that no further work could continue until the notice was lifted by an inspector.
On 22 March 2014 Mr Singh went to the worksite with a contractor who removed a wooden ramp from the site. A neighbour told Mr Singh that he was not supposed to be there and that the site was closed. The neighbour then advised WorkSafe.
On 24 March 2014 when the inspector spoke to Mr Singh he replied that “I was just removing stuff from the site so it would not get wet.”
The Judge was clear that removing the ramp required physical exertion by the contractor and the transportation of the ramp was a necessary part of the contractor’s work. The Judge was satisfied that the removal of the ramp constituted work and was in contravention of the prohibition notice.
“WorkSafe inspectors issue prohibition notices if they believe there is a likelihood of serious harm to any person,” says Keith Stewart, WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector. “In this case, the worksite had tested positive for asbestos.
“Prohibition notices are issued to keep people safe and should not be ignored.”