Shoddy directors fined $386,000 after work site incident

This WorkSafe press release provides clear evidence of what not to do as a rural business owner in relation to health and safety in the workplace.

Key learns for the precedents set in the below judgement (apart from the basics of not being an appalling uncaring and ineffective boss). In fairness, we’d agree these individuals represents the bottom % of all rural mangers out there.

However, this finding is actual prescriptive clarification of “What you must do” in the eyes of the law in all workplaces. Our thoughts are with the victim and their family coping with the after math of this terrible incident.

All farm Directors and Managers of PCBU’s are urged to:

  • Take the law and safety seriously, get involved and start creating health & safety culture/systems for your staff
  • Ensure you train your team on how to use dangerous equipment correctly, and record that you have
  • Get an emergency plan set up and factor in procedures for lone workers
  • Notify WorkSafe of any near miss or actual notifiable events – you’re in for the high jump if you do not
  • Start thinking about H&S in all aspects of your workplace – you & your staff are entitled to be safe

WorkSafe extract below –

Company and director fined for incident that left a man a tetraplegic

22 May 2017

Disregard for employee health and safety left a worker a tetraplegic, and resulted in a total of $386,300 in fines and reparation for a horticultural company and its director in the Pukekohe District Court today.

Wai Shing Ltd and its director Franklin Wai Shing were each charged under section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act (1992) for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee while at work. This followed an incident that left an employee paralysed from the neck down and requiring 24-hour care.

The victim lay undiscovered and unable to move for several hours after he was struck on the back of the neck by part of a harvester – used to collect pumpkin and squash – while he unloaded it from a truck in a remote location.

“Wai Shing Ltd hadn’t followed basic health and safety management practices such as understanding and managing risks associated with using the harvester, despite using it since 1996,” said WorkSafe General Manager Operations and Specialist Services, Brett Murray.

“In addition, the victim was inadequately trained in its use or transport and the company had no emergency plan to cover when a person is injured while working alone,” Mr Murray said.

The company was also charged under sections 25 and 26 after it failed in its duty to notify WorkSafe after the incident, disturbed the incident scene and continued using the harvester that injured the worker.

It also failed to mention the incident two weeks later when WorkSafe inspectors visited on an unrelated matter. WorkSafe was only alerted to the incident nearly six months later by the victim’s wife.

Notes

Wai Shing Ltd was fined $37,500, Mr Franklin Wai Shing was fined $12,500, and the total reparations ordered were $336,300.

The incident occurred on 10 March 2016.


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