The importance of good risk assessment and monitoring of offenders carrying out community work has been highlighted in today’s sentencing of the Corrections Department under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.
The department was charged under S15 of the Act (failing to take all practicable steps to ensure no action or inaction of any employee while at work harms any other person) after the victim was crushed on 7 June 2014 by part of a tree that had been previously felled.
In this case, Corrections did not carry out risk assessments when placing offenders with a community organisation, instead they believed the community organisation was set up and resourced to carry out risk assessments and to undertake the associated management actions on Corrections’ behalf.
Chief District Court Judge Jan Marie Doogue has entered a conviction against the Ministry of Social Development on a charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees. Judge Doogue declined an MSD application for discharge without conviction.
The charge was brought by WorkSafe which investigated MSD’s safety systems following the shootings at the WINZ office in Ashburton.
In her judgment she said that ‘deterrence, denunciation and accountability’ are the most important principles to consider in health and safety cases. She noted that had she been able to fine MSD (see ** below), she would have set the fine at $16,000
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