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A school board of trustees was sentenced at the Tokoroa District Court yesterday after a mobile scaffold toppled over, injuring a teacher and student.

Mobile scaffolding was erected in Forest View High School’s auditorium to assist with setting up lighting for plays and assemblies. In June 2018 a teacher and student fell from the 3.9 metre high working platform of the scaffold after it tipped over as it was being moved. Both were knocked unconscious and suffered serious lacerations, fractures and brain injuries.

WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector Investigations Hayden Mander said the school had not developed a safe system of work around the use of the mobile scaffold.

“There were no policies or procedures in place around working from heights, or for student involvement in the use of the scaffold,” he said.

“With no safe systems in place students and staff were exposed to a very real risk of injury and this incident could have had catastrophic consequences.”

The judge imposed a health and safety project order under section 155 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 in place of a fine. Reparation of $100,000 was also ordered.

The order will require The Forest View High School Board of Trustees to prepare and present a safety presentation at the National Conference of the School Trustees Association in 2020, with a focus on the need to develop and implement a suitable risk management system for in the classroom and extra-curricular activities. As well as this they are also required to prepare a safety article for New Zealand’s online school bulletin, He Pitopito Korero.

In 2018, 2,136 workers were away from work for a week or longer as the result of a fall from heights, said Mr Mander.

“The risks associated with working from heights are well known and this is why it remains a key focus area for WorkSafe as a regulator.”

For more information around the safe use of scaffolding, see our guidance.

Notes:

  • A project order was imposed under section 155 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 was ordered.
  • Reparation of $100,000 was ordered.
  • The Forest View High School Board of Trustees was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a) and (2), 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 who worked for the PCBU, while at work in the business or undertaking, namely as a teacher at Forest View High School using a mobile scaffold, and that failure exposed workers to a risk of death or serious injury, arising from exposure to the hazard of falling from height.
    • Being a PCBU, having a duty to ensure so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of other persons, is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking, namely a as student of Forest View High School using a mobile scaffold, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed the other persons to a risk of serious injury arising from exposure to the hazard of falling from height.
  • S 48 (2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000. 

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