Companies must consult, coordinate and cooperate when working together on site

When more than one company is working on site there is a legal requirement that they consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

And WorkSafe says meeting this legal requirement could have prevented serious injuries to two workers in 2017.

In a reserved decision released by the Invercargill District Court this week, Phil Stirling Building Limited and Duncan Engineering Limited were both sentenced after two workers were seriously injured while building a milking shed in Southland.

Two workers from Phil Stirling Building were installing horizontal beams on the shed’s ceiling, but did not bolt them in place securely and as a result they fell on two workers below. One worker was left with a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident, while the other suffered a fracture to his vertebrae.

A WorkSafe investigation found the companies failed to ensure other workers on site knew to keep clear of the risk area.

Phil Stirling Building had failed to ensure a risk assessment was carried out before work commenced, WorkSafe says. The investigation also found Duncan Engineering, who was hired to install a milking platform in the shed, had not consulted with Phil Stirling Building about the scope of its health and safety duties.

WorkSafe says there were no formal discussions between contractors on site regarding what each party was working on, hazards present, or management of risks.

Phil Stirling Building Limited was fined $150,000, which was reduced for financial reasons, and ordered to pay reparation of $6,000. Duncan Engineering was fined $191,250 and ordered to pay reparation of $4,000.

WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions, Simon Humphries said communication on jobs with multiple contractors was vital.

“Despite working on the same job, there was a lack of coordination between contractors. Each party should have alerted other parties to potential risks or hazards.

“Two men were seriously injured in this needless incident.” 

Notes:

Phil Stirling Building Limited

  • Convicted under sections 36(2), 48(1) and (2)(c) and sections 34(1) and 34(2)(b) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and fined $150,000.
  • Reparation of $6,000 was ordered, as well as $9,542 for consequential loss.
  • Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of other persons, was not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking, namely adequately securing purlins whilst building the roof of a milking shed, and that failure exposed any individuals to a risk of death or serious injury, namely the risks of the purlins falling from a height.
  • Being a PCBU, who had a duty in relation to the construction of a milking shed, failed to, so far as was reasonably practicable consult and coordinate with all other PCBUs who have a duty in relation to the same matter, including Duncan Engineering Limited.

Duncan Engineering Limited

  • Convicted under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) and sections 34(1) and 34(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and fined $191,250.
  • Reparation of $4,000 was ordered, as well as $6,361 for consequential loss.
  • Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, namely installing the milking platform and that failure exposed any individual to a risk of death or serious injury arising from unsecured purlins falling from a height.
  • Being a PCBU, who had a duty in relation to the construction of a milking shed, failed to, so far as was reasonably practicable consult and coordinate with all other PCBUs who have a duty in relation to the same matter, including Phil Stirling Building Limited.

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