Food and beverage wholesaler ordered to pay over $128K after employee fatally injured in forklift incident
The tragic consequences of a worker not receiving adequate training in operating a forklift have been highlighted in a District Court sentencing against a food stuffs and beverage wholesaler.
Daisuke Yokoyama was killed on March 9 this year after sustaining serious injuries to his torso when he became trapped between a cross beam on a racking unit and the console of the forklift he was operating at a Lower Hutt warehouse.
Christchurch company Blakely Construction Limited has been fined a total of $45,000 for failing to properly identify and manage asbestos at a demolition site.
Blakely Construction was contracted to demolish buildings on Edgeware Road in Christchurch in March 2014. It engaged a specialist contractor to remove 140 “Super 6” roofing sheets, which contained asbestos. During that work the contractor identified further asbestos contamination on site and advised Blakely Construction.
Demolition work continued and when more Super 6 sheets were uncovered and accidently broken up Blakely Construction’s site manager instructed staff to “carry on working around the matter by pushing it aside”
The operator of the Tui Ridge Park near Rotorua (Seventh-day Adventist Church Property Trustee (NZ) Ltd) has been fined $46,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $40,000 to a woman who fell while taking part in a high ropes course.
The woman was at the park as part of a team building event in November 2014. One activity involved crossing a ‘high beam’ while attached to a harness, rope and belay system. Once she had crossed the ten-metre high beam the belay system was used to lower her to the ground.
The belay was operated by two of her colleagues, who had received instruction from park staff in its use. She had safely descended approximately 7 metres when the first belyer lost control and appears to have pulled the wrong lever – causing the victim to fall the final 3 metres rapidly to the ground. The secondary belayer was concentrating on trying to keep the first belayer on the ground (as she was having difficulty keeping grounded) and may have dropped the rope.
The victim suffered serious injuries including spinal fractures and spinal cord injury.
A farm manager has been awarded reparations of $50,000 after a 2012 quad bike crash at work. His employers were fined $20,000 for failing to keep him safe at work.
The farm manager broke his neck and sustained permanent brain damage when his quad bike hit a large tree while he was rounding up his dogs. He was not wearing a helmet, although one had been purchased for the farm.
He was in an induced coma for two weeks.
Benchmark-Construction Limited has been fined $43,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $40,000 to a young worker who has hit by a bucket attachment that came loose from an excavator.
The 16-year-old was doing casual work for the company in January this year when the incident happened. He was working in a trench at a Kaiapoi development when the bucket of an excavator being operated by another employee detached and struck him.
The teenager suffered a compound fracture of his left leg with nerve damage as well as cuts to his right leg and bruising. He required surgery on his left leg and is receiving ongoing medical treatment.
Businessman Eric Gerritsen has been fined $115,000 for obstructing a WorkSafe New Zealand inspector who was investigating the collapse of an inflatable slide.
Mr Gerritsen’s trading entity Event Fun Unlimited was operating the ‘Mammoth Slide’ at the Masterton A&P Show in February when it collapsed. A number of children fell from the top platform – a height of 12 metres. Six children were taken to hospital for their injuries and one who fell from the top of the stairs has ongoing problems with a minor knee injury.
WorkSafe launched an investigation into the incident but Mr Gerritsen repeatedly failed to provide information and documents he was required to supply over a period of months. The Summary of Facts details a pattern of ignoring email and phone messages - despite warnings that failure to provide the information could be considered obstruction.
Mr Gerritsen was found guilty of one charge of obstructing a WorkSafe inspector under sections 48 and 50(1)(b) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act. He was sentenced today in the Hamilton District Court.
WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart, says six children were injured when the slide collapsed and WorkSafe was trying to find out exactly what went wrong.
“By refusing to co-operate Mr Gerritsen effectively prevented WorkSafe from possibly learning valuable lessons for other inflatable slide operators to prevent similar incidents. It is unusual and irresponsible for a business owner not to assist with an investigation – particularly in a case, that as Judge Burnett emphasised today, involved the safety of children.
“The WorkSafe inspector was just doing her job – a job that comes with certain legal powers to request information as part of an investigation. Mr Gerritsen was repeatedly obstructive and such obstruction will usually result in legal consequences,” says Keith Stewart.
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