Dimac Contractors Limited

Court Summary - at a glance

Date of offence:
4 April 2016
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Final decision date:
 
Fine imposed:
$90,000

Safety lessons learned:
  1. Ensure the health and safety of workers by:
    1. developing an adequate process to identify and manage electrical hazards
    2. ensuring the power lines were not live before work commenced, eliminating the hazard.
  2. If it is not reasonably practical to eliminate the hazard, the hazard can be minimised by:
    1. developing an adequate process to identify and manage electrical hazards
    2. ensuring work was done in accordance with the safe distances in the New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances – NZECP 34:2001.
  3. After the pole fell the risk to the health and safety of workers could have been minimised by:
    1. instructing workers not to approach the power line after the pole had fallen
    2. restricting access by workers to the fallen line 
    3. waiting for professional advice as to the status of the fallen power line before allowing work to continue.

Defendant name:
Dimac Contractors Limited
 
Industry:
Building and construction
 
Date of offence:
4 April 2016
 
Facts in brief:
The Defendant company provides excavation, land development, and site clearing services. It was engaged to remove contaminated top soil from a residential development site. A 240kv line ran through the contaminated area, along four power poles. The line did not service any buildings.

On the morning of the incident the project manager for the development told the Defendant that he thought the line was dead, but he wasn’t sure so to treat it as live. The Defendant said it did not need to encroach a 4 meter zone around the line. The line was not tested before work began and no measures were put in place to mark a 4 meter zone around the line.

Later that morning a worker of the Defendant was removing soil near the line with a digger. The digger slewed and the boom of the digger struck the 240kv line causing a power pole to snap and fall. The line became entangled around the digger. The project manager left a message with Wellington Electricity Lines to test the line. He then phoned the general manager of the Defendant to inform him. The general manager told the project manager to instruct one of the Defendant’s workers to cut the line. A worker used insulated cutters to cut the line. Nobody was harmed in the incident.

Later that day a technician tested the line and found it was live, with a reading of 238-240kv.
 
Offence section:
Sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 2(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
 
Date charged:

Court:
Hutt Valley - District Court
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Final decision date:
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Fine imposed:
$90,000
 
Maximum fine available:
$1,500,000
 
Reparation:
Not applicable