Worksafe NZ has accepted an enforceable undertaking from Fletcher Construction Company Limited, following an incident in May 2016 where a worker was injured by a temporary wall which collapsed following a high-rain event.
The worker was working in a two metre deep hole where temporary concrete blocks were being used as a retaining wall. Water was being pumped out of the hole following heavy rainfall. The worker was attaching plywood to the blocks to stop aggregate being washed under the temporary concrete block wall when the concrete blocks started to shift. He was unable to get far enough away before he was caught under the falling blocks and plywood.
The victim sustained multiple fractures to his right lower leg. The incident required him to take eight months off work as a result of his injuries.
Following their investigation into the incident, Worksafe found that Fletcher Construction had failed under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of a worker.
This is the tenth enforceable undertaking Worksafe has accepted under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015; a tool that is increasingly being used, in appropriate cases, as a positive alternative to prosecution.
WSNZ Deputy General Manager, Investigations and Specialist Services Simon Humphries said the decision to accept the enforceable undertaking was appropriate given the circumstances.
"This is not an opportunity for Fletcher Construction to escape their corporate responsibility for the health and safety of a worker.
"It’s a legally binding agreement that requires them to complete a number of commitments, which will benefit health and safety in the wider construction industry. We have a dedicated team monitoring compliance with the enforceable undertaking and ensuring that Fletcher follow through on their promises."
The victim confirmed that he accepted the enforceable undertaking as an acceptable alternative to prosecution.
Under the enforceable undertaking, Fletcher Construction committed to initiatives including:
Fletcher Construction’s Chief Executive Michele Kernahan said the division has committed an immense amount of time, and resource in recent years to improving its safety record.
"We deeply regret this incident occurred and that a worker on one of our sites was harmed," she said.
"Everyone deserves to go home safe at the end of the day and it is disappointing that we let this person down by not fully recognising the risks in the works on that site, in that environment."
"It is important that we collectively learn from this as an organisation and as an industry. Temporary works are a challenging area which require collaboration, consistent understanding and shared learning between designers, contractors and suppliers to create a safe work environment."
"We welcome the opportunity that this undertaking provides for us to improve the safety of temporary works on our sites and hope the changes we make as a result will benefit practices across the construction industry."
Ms Kernahan said as there is currently no New Zealand standard for temporary works the company will develop and implement its new temporary works procedure guided by the British Standard or Code of Practice (BS5975:2008).
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