CentrePort sentenced after fatality

Companies cannot be complacent about working from heights, says WorkSafe, after a worker died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall at CentrePort in Wellington.

CentrePort Limited was sentenced and fined $506,048 at the Wellington District Court today following the January 2017 incident at the company’s container assessment and repair facility. A worker was using a ladder to access the roof and undertake repairs on a 2.9 metre high container. He fell and hit his head on the concrete below.

At a disputed facts hearing in February 2019, the judge found the worker had died as a result of CentrePort Limited’s “failure to develop and implement a safe system of work for repairs of containers.”

WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions Simon Humphries said that the incident was foreseeable and avoidable.

“There were numerous health and safety failings made by CentrePort that led to the worker’s death.

“The Port had developed safe working procedures but failed to ensure that these procedures were implemented where the victim was working. WorkSafe also found that ladders were not being tied off and those that were in use were in poor repair, and there was no auditing to ensure that they were safe and appropriate for use. Further, there was no edge or fall protection in place to protect workers.

“Safe operating procedures are there for a reason, particularly in the case of working at height which is a well-known and significant risk and they must be implemented and fully embedded in a workplace.

“In addition, particular care and diligence should be taken to ensure that equipment that is used to access work at height is safe and in good working order,” said Mr Humphries.

“The tragic death of this worker should serve as a reminder to every business whose workers undertake their duties off the ground that even a fall from a relatively low height can be fatal.

“This incident is a stark demonstration that complacency has no place in workplace health and safety.”

Notes:

  • A fine of $506,048 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $150,952 was ordered, in addition to sums of $124,554 already paid.
  • Costs of $36,425 were ordered.
  • CentrePort Limited was sentence under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 2(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • Being a PCBU failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers in the Empty Container Depot, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, namely undertaking the repair of shipping containers, and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of death or serious injury, arising from the use of ladders.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

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