Whitford Park Golf Club Incorporated

On 12 May 2016 a volunteer for a group known as the Rangers was at Whitford Park Golf Club Incorporated (WPGC) assisting with fundraising activities for the volunteer group. The particular activity was splitting wood using the group’s log splitter so that the wood could be sold to raise funds, which would then be dispersed at the direction of the ranger group. As the victim splitting a piece of wood using the log splitter his right index finger was caught between the log and the back plate of the logging machine. His finger was amputated at the second joint from the top of the finger as a consequence of the resulting injury.

The worker has made a full recovery with no long lasting effects but will have a scar for life.

Alleged Breach

Sections 36(2), 48(1) and (2)(c), of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Summary of Enforceable Undertaking

WPGC will:

  • Present the lessons learnt by the Club to a Golf Course Superintendent’s Association meeting. These will be presented by the WPGC’s superintendent and/or GM. A hardcopy of the presentation will be provided to every golf club in NZ and the presentation will be published on NZ Golf Superintendents Association website.
  • Make a presentation about the incident at the WPGC’s AGM in November 2017. This will be presented by the Club’s President.
  • Publish an article in NZ Golf Magazine and on the NZ Golf website.
  • Establish a development programme for young players at the Club with a health and safety component. WPGC will contribute $10,000 per annum for a minimum of 3 years.
  • Present on health and safety at the bi-annual presentation to the local community over a 2 year period. This is facilitated through Whitford Community Trust and held at Whitford Community Hall.
  • Establish a free coaching clinic for retired members of the public every fortnight for an hour for at least 2 years.
  • Donate $5,000 to the local St Johns unit/station over a 2 year period.
  • Provide a payment to the worker and an honorary membership (expected to provide benefits to the worker for 10-15 years) at no charge.

This enforceable undertaking has a total estimated expenditure of at least $70,760 (including WorkSafe’s recoverable costs).

Reasons for Accepting the Undertaking

  • The alleged contravention is not a section 47 (reckless conduct) offence which would preclude it from being accepted.
  • The enforceable undertaking meets the requirements of WorkSafe’sEnforceable Undertakings Operational Policy document dated December 2016; in particular noting:
    • The nature of the alleged contravention and how serious it was.
      • The amputation to the worker’s finger meant the injury was serious but the circumstances in which it happened were unusual and involved a volunteer splitting a log, which is not generally considered the primary activity of a golf club.
      • At the time of the incident two people were lifting logs for splitting onto the splitter (to avoid lifting injuries). WPGC acknowledged that this did not follow the manufacturer’s operating manual guidelines for the log splitter which states only one person operates and loads the log splitter. Guidelines were also available from WorkSafe’s Log Splitter Hazard Bulletin which recommends two handed controls are adopted and the log splitter is only used by a single operator where guarding is not practicable.
    • Submissions received from any interested party, including any victim(s), in relation to the contravention.
      • A payment will be offered to the worker.
      • The worker advised that they would be comfortable if a decision was made by WorkSafe to accept an enforceable undertaking as an alternative to a prosecution.
      • Since October 2016 the worker has been volunteering at WPGC in the same capacity as they were prior to the incident.
    • The person’s conduct in respect of mitigation and remedial action, regarding both the contravention and any person affected by the contravention (including victims).
      • WPGC has:
        • Expressed regret that the accident occurred and the harm that it caused to the worker.
        • Provided the worker free unlimited golf coaching lessons to assist with recovery and adapting to the injury until the worker felt it was no longer necessary and WPGC has kept this option available in case the worker wishes to resume lessons.
        • Put the worker’s membership (and fees) on hold from the time of the incident until the worker was able to return to full capacity in October 2016.
        • Removed the wood splitter from the premises to prevent the incident from reoccurring.
        • Revised its whole health and safety system, policies and procedures to prevent any other incidents from happening in future.
      • The activities in the enforceable undertaking will provide long-term sustainable health and safety improvements in the workplace, industry and community. 
    • The person’s past performance and history of compliance with health and safety legislation.
      • WPGC does not have any previous health and safety convictions.
    • Any other matter which WorkSafe thinks is relevant
      • The undertaking offers sufficient benefit beyond compliance to offset the seriousness of the offending.
      • The undertaking accounts for the benefits that accrue to WPGC by the prosecution not proceeding.
  • The undertaking includes WorkSafe’s involvement in the messaging and outreach of the presentations delivered by WPGC

Enforceable undertaking - Whitford Park Golf Club Incorporated (PDF 320 KB)