It is vital that businesses ensure workers have the right training and experience for the job at hand, especially when heavy machinery is involved.
This messaging from WorkSafe comes after a 7.5 tonne roller operated by a worker slid over a steep bank backwards, coming to a brief stop approximately 20 metres down. The worker managed to escape but was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.
Contracting company Wilson Contractors (2003) Limited appeared in the Dunedin District Court on 25 June 2020, and was fined $275,000 in a reserved decision issued on 3 September 2020.
In May 2018 the company had been hired to install level the shoulder of the road and install safety barriers along State Highway 6 between Frankton and Kingston in Queenstown.
WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions Simon Humphries said the victim was tasked with operating the roller to create a flat surface behind safety barriers for future maintenance work, when the incident occurred.
He suffered from serious injuries including compound fractures to both bones in his lower leg, a punctured lung and four broken ribs along with wounds to his head and foot.
WorkSafe’s investigation found that the 7.5 tonne roller should not have been used so close to a steep drop off, that the worker had no experience operating a 7.5 tonne roller and did not hold a license endorsement to operate rollers on public roads.
Mr Humphries said even more disappointingly, the company was aware that the worker did not hold the appropriate licence endorsement and this was the second incident recorded by the company in which an unlicensed worker had been allowed to operate a roller.
“The previous incident should have raised red flags for Wilson Contractors (2003) Limited immediately. The company was fully aware of the risks involved in operating this kind of machine.
“WorkSafe’s advice to any business is ensuring you have the right person for the right job. Before letting any worker operate heavy, dangerous machinery ask yourself, are they licensed and endorsed? Are they trained and competent? If the answer is no then they simply should not operate it.
“In this instance, not only was the worker unlicensed, it was also the wrong machine for the job. There was a high risk of the machine rolling over, in an area made up of narrow ground and a steep drop off. Wilson Contractors could have used plate compactors to ensure the job could be done safely.”
In addition to a fine, a work health and safety project order was imposed pursuant to section 155 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requiring Wilson Contractors to produce an article outlining lessons learnt from the incident.
- A fine of $275,000 was imposed.
- Reparation of $50,000 was ordered, as well as $ 18,092 for consequential loss.
- A work health and safety project order under section 155 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 was imposed.
- Wilson Contractors (2003) Limited were sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
- Being a PCBU, having a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who worked for the PCBU, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, namely operating the 2008 HAMM HD75 roller, and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of serious injury or death.
- S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.