WorkSafe Prosecution Corner

24 Aug 2018

Two companies will have to fork out over $100,000 each after a worker was crushed by a falling switchboard.

WorkSafe has accepted Enforceable Undertakings from two companies – the subcontractor undertaking the work and the principal contractor managing the site - worth a total of at least $282,000.

The accident occurred while a group of workers were installing a 1400kg switchboard at a power station in 2016. Due to the layout of the installation, the workers used a trolley jack to lift the switchboard. The switchboard tipped forward, striking a worker in the abdomen as it fell. It came to rest on a stand in the corner of the room which prevented it from falling to the ground. This prevented the victim from being crushed by the full weight of the switchboard. The victim suffered a crush injury to the abdomen area, including laceration of the spleen.

WorkSafe said both companies had obligations to the health and safety of workers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the investigation found their failures contributed to the unnecessary injury of the worker.

WorkSafe Deputy General Manager, Investigations and Specialist Services, Simon Humphries said this was a case of poor planning and that risks relating to the movement and lifting of large and heavy objects need to be managed appropriately.

“This was a lucky escape for the worker who could have been more significantly injured by the falling switchboard. The enforceable undertakings agreed on by both parties will provide benefits to the local community, electrical profession and project management space that will help prevent similar incidents occurring again. WorkSafe will be monitoring compliance with both enforceable undertakings to ensure the commitments outlined in the undertakings are delivered on."


1. Both the contractor doing the job and the main contractor managing the site will be held accountable for accidents on site.

2. Jobs involving a high-level of risk need to be planned in advance and a risk assessment completed.

To find out more about managing contractors, download our free guide.

To learn more about how to manage risk in your business, try our Risk Management course.

Under the enforceable undertaking the subcontractor must:

• In addition to a voluntary payment already made, a further voluntary payment to the victim and other staff involved in the incident and ACC top up for the victim.
• Providing NZQA approved courses to employees.
• Engaging a speaker approved by WorkSafe to attend a whole of staff meeting to discuss health and safety.
• Developing a video designed for Master Electricians that focuses on hazard identification.
• Developing a video or course specifically targeting hazard identification and health and safety for an electrical training provider, the Electrical Training Company (ETCO).
• Publishing an article for SafeGuard and other industry publications.
• Donating $5000 to St John Ambulance and $5000 to Rescue Helicopter.
• Covering the costs for SiteSafe or a similar organisation to attend and run a stall at the Oamaru A&P Show.
• Providing $15,000 to put towards funding for a health and safety radio/digital campaign.

Under the enforceable undertaking the main contractor must:

• Providing financial assistance to the victim.
• Developing and providing workshops to revise and improve a number of its subcontract management and high-risk work procedures.
• Providing safety leadership training for management and supervisory personnel.
• Arranging for all site supervisors to attend a two-day training course provided by Site Safe.
• Developing an electricity industry installation practice guide in conjunction with Master Electricians.
• Developing a ConstructSafe certification for the electrical industry in conjunction with Master Electricians and ETCO.
• Publishing articles for industry publications about the incident to increase industry awareness of the need to plan and supervise the safe installation of switchboards and heavy electrical equipment.
• Making a donation to Otago Rescue Helicopter.
• Sponsoring St Johns Ambulance to run a first aid course for up to 20 people from the local farming community.