Companies must ensure fleets are properly maintained

Vehicles are the biggest cause of acute harm in any workplace, says WorkSafe, and a recent prosecution has highlighted the need for all companies to ensure their fleets are properly maintained.

In a reserved decision released by the Tauranga District Court today, Sorensen Transport Limited was sentenced after one of its truck’s brakes failed and a worker was injured.

In October 2016 a driver who worked for the company, was travelling down the Kaimai Ranges, when the truck’s brakes stopped working correctly.

The driver lost control of the truck, which then struck another vehicle, crashed through a barrier and fell on its side trapping the driver in the cab. The driver bruised their legs, arm and shoulder and suffered whiplash.

The driver of the vehicle struck by the truck lost their right eye and suffered from multiple rib fractures as well as a fractured face and collar bone and bruised lungs.

A police investigation raised concerns about breaches of work health and safety legislation with regards to the state of maintenance to the truck and as a result WorkSafe carried out its own investigation.

A WorkSafe investigation found the truck was not maintained to proper standards and found that brakes were not included on the Sorensen’s fleet check sheet.

WorkSafe Chief Inspector, Investigations, Steve Kelly, said vehicles are the single biggest cause of acute harm at work across all sectors.

“The consequences of an incident involving a vehicle can be severe. This incident has left one person with life changing injuries and the outcome could have been much worse.

“This crash could have been avoided if Sorensen Transport Limited had of ensured the truck was adequately maintained and if the company had established an effective system for identifying and monitoring maintenance requirements specific to each truck in its fleet.”

Notes

  • A fine of $150,000 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $85,000 was ordered to be paid to two victims, as well as consequential loss of $22,113.
  • Sorensen Transport Limited was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
    • Being a PCBU, it failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who worked for the PCBU, while the workers were at work at the business or undertaking, namely operating a Mitsubishi fighter truck, and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of death or serious injury arising from failure of trucks brake systems.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

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