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A worker’s five-and-a-half metre fall at work, which resulted in a broken pelvis and facial injuries, has resulted in Wellington company Ebert Construction Limited being fined $33,750 and being ordered to pay $29,000 in reparations to the worker.
In January last year the worker was installing plant and equipment at Silver Fern Farms’ Te Aroha freezing works following significant earlier fire damage. The man fell through a void on the first floor in which a service lift was to be installed. The hole was covered, but not fixed in place.
The worker was working for a subcontractor who Ebert Construction had contracted to complete metal work on the first floor of the plant. Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, Ebert Construction was responsible for ensuring his safety while at work, but did not alert the workforce to the hazard nor did it isolate the hazard by securely fixing the cover or by providing edge protection around it.
The Ministry’s Health and Safety Group’s Central Region General Manager, Murray Thompson said the accident was completely avoidable.
“It is such a simple and obvious thing to do to warn workers or put adequate protection around the edge of holes like this – failure to do so in this case has significantly and unnecessarily injured a worker.”
“The construction sector is one of New Zealand’s most dangerous and the Ministry has a nationwide programme in place to educate employers and employees on the dangers of falls from heights. Work at height must be actively managed so that people are not harmed or killed as a result. Doing nothing is not an option.”
“We will not hesitate to prosecute where falls result in serious injury,” Mr Thompson said.
The sentence was delivered in the Auckland District Court on Thursday. Ebert Construction had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to take all practicable step to ensure that as the Principal, it ensured the employee of a contractor was not harmed while at work (Section 18(1)(a) Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
For more information on the Preventing Falls From Height Project
The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online