Company fined after workplace incident leaves worker permanently paralysed

A North Island company has been fined $304,750 after a workplace incident on a mobile elevating work platform left a worker permanently paralysed from the neck down.

In a reserved decision released by the Tauranga District Court yesterday, Supermac Group Resources Limited was also ordered to pay reparation of $238,000 following the incident in May 2016.

In the incident, a worker was unloading a boom lift from a transporter at a construction site in Kerikeri when the boom lift slipped off the transporter. The worker was catapulted from the boom lift and was left paralysed and will never walk again.

The worker was not trained to use the boom lift and was not wearing a restraining harness as he was working – these are requirements clearly stated in the Best Practice Guidelines for Mobile Elevating Work Platforms.

WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector Specialist Interventions Hayden Mander said it is critical that when businesses are asking their workers to use any machinery, they ensure they’ve been trained to do so and follow all safety practices.

“We are seeing too many cases where workers are being injured because basic safety procedures laid down in industry and regulator best practice requirements are not being met.

“Risks involved in using machinery are very easy to identify, and too many businesses are failing in their duty to keep their workers safe by not putting controls in place to manage the risks. In this case, the business should have trained the worker before he was allowed onto the machine, and should have ensured that a safety harness was available and worn.

“These are easy things to do. Supermac’s failure to do them has left a worker paralysed from the chest down and facing the future knowing he will never be able to walk again.”

Notes:

  • A fine of $304,750 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $100,000 was ordered, as well as $138,000 for consequential loss.
  • Supermac Group Resources Limited was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 2(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • Supermac Group Resources Limited, being a PCBU failed to ensure , so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety or workers who work for the PCBU, while  at work in the business or undertaking, namely delivering a Haulotte HA18 boom lift, and that failure exposed them to a risk of serious injury.
  • S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.

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