WorkSafe Prosecution Corner

24 Jun 2019

WorkSafe says the death of a Wellington worker is a reminder that even a fall from a relatively low height can be fatal.

The worker was using a ladder to do repairs on a 2.9m high container at Wellington’s CentrePort in January 2017 when he fell and hit his head on the concrete.

The company was sentenced and fined $506,048 at the Wellington District Court. Reparation of $150,952 was ordered, in addition to sums of $124,554 already paid.

At a disputed facts hearing in February 2019, the judge found the worker had died as a result of CentrePort Limited’s “failure to develop and implement a safe system of work for repairs of containers”.

Simon Humphries, WorkSafe’s head of specialist interventions, said there were several health and safety failings that lead to the worker’s death at CentrePort’s container assessment and repair facility.

“The Port had developed safe working procedures but failed to ensure that these procedures were implemented where the victim was working,” he said.

 “WorkSafe also found that ladders were not being tied off and those that were in use were in poor repair.”

As well  there was no auditing to make sure the ladders were safe and appropriate for use and there was no edge or fall protection in place.

CentrePort was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 2(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. It was found that being a PCBU CentrePort failed to ensure the health and safety of workers repairing shipping containers and that failure exposed the workers to risk.

 “Safe operating procedures are there for a reason, particularly in the case of working at height which is a well-known and significant risk and they must be implemented and fully embedded in a workplace,” Mr Humphries said.

 “The tragic death of this worker should serve as a reminder to every business whose workers undertake their duties off the ground that even a fall from a relatively low height can be fatal.”

 Key Takeaway

Learn more about working safely at heights with the Passport Plus – Heights course.

The course is suitable for workers, contractors and managers who may need to be aware of the risks of working at height. Trainees learn to identify and control some of the key risks associated with working at height and develop an understanding of their health and safety responsibilities.