Quarry operator fined after employee falls from work platform
A South Island quarry operator has been fined $36,000 and ordered to pay $21,118 in reparations and costs related to the injuries suffered after an employee fell from an elevated work platform on a hammer mill machine, sustaining a fractured skull, concussion, a brain haemorrhage and a bruised hip.
Southern Aggregates Limited was sentenced in the Invercargill District Court yesterday on one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee.
The employee was working on a stationary ‘Kumbee’ hammer mill machine at the Greenhills Quarry on November 5th 2014 when he fell 1.47m from the machine’s work platform. The section of the platform he was working on did not have adequate guard railing, only a chain barrier which hung low and did not provide adequate fall protection.
A WorkSafe investigation revealed that Southern Aggregates Limited had failed to identify all hazards associated with employees working at height and failed to provide adequate guard railing.
WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart, says that despite the company having a health and safety policy that requires guardrails for all working platforms more than three metres in height, it failed to identify the hazard of working at heights under three metres in adherence with the international standard NZS/AS 1657:1992.
“Working at height comes with obvious risk. Incidents such as these can be prevented if employers make it a priority to identify all hazards before work starts, as well as ensure that the necessary equipment, appropriate precautions and systems of work are set in place,” Keith Stewart says.