Falling short of standards results in fall from height
A recent decision in New Zealand, where a business was fined $100,000, highlights the serious consequences of a failure to take proper care in establishing a safe workplace for others.
In mid-January 2020, a worker was replacing a roof at a school when a guardrail installed by TPL Access Limited gave way. The worker fell 3.6 metres and suffered significant injuries. The guardrail had not been installed in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines and industry standards, to ensure it was safe and fit for use.
The Court considered that TPL Access Limited had failed to ensure that the way in which plant or structure, namely edge protection, was installed, constructed or commissioned ensured that the plant or structure was without risks to the health and safety of persons who use the plant or structure for a purpose for which it is installed, constructed or commissioned.
In this case, the Court was satisfied that it was this failure that led to the risk of injury.
The Court imposed a fine of $100,000, to be paid over 5years, and also ordered that reparations of $43,000 be paid to the injured worker immediately.
This case is a good reminder to consider the health and safety of the people who will ultimately be reliant on a product when installing, building or commissioning structures for use at work. Falls from height remains one of the most prevalent causes of injury in the construction industry and employers need to be vigilant in preventing the risk.
For guidance on managing the risk of falls, refer to the Health & Safety Handbook chapter Working at heights.
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