Disregard for employee health and safety left a worker a tetraplegic and resulted in a total of $386,300 in fines and reparation for a horticultural company and its director
Wai Shing Ltd and its director Franklin Wai Shing were each charged in the Pukekohe District Court under section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act (1992) for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee while at work.
This followed an incident that left an employee paralysed from the neck down and requiring 24-hour care.
The victim lay undiscovered and unable to move for several hours after he was struck on the back of the neck by part of a harvester – used to collect pumpkin and squash – while he unloaded it from a truck in a remote location.
“Wai Shing Ltd hadn’t followed basic health and safety management practices such as understanding and managing risks associated with using the harvester, despite using it since 1996,” says WorkSafe General Manager Operations and Specialist Services, Brett Murray.
“In addition, the victim was inadequately trained in its use or transport and the company had no emergency plan to cover when a person is injured while working alone.”
The company was also charged under sections 25 and 26 after it failed in its duty to notify WorkSafe after the incident, disturbed the incident scene and continued using the harvester that injured the worker.
It also failed to mention the incident two weeks later when WorkSafe inspectors visited on an unrelated matter.
WorkSafe was only alerted to the incident nearly six months later by the victim’s wife.
Wai Shing Ltd was fined $37,500 and Franklin Wai Shing $12,500, with total reparations of $336,000 ordered.
The reparations are not classified as a fine so the total fines imposed by the court are $50,000.