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.

“There are three key learnings from this tragic case,” WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart, said today.

“Corrections needs to ensure there is an assessment of the risks to offenders undertaking community work particularly in relation to hazardous work, and appropriate safety precautions put in place.

“Second, Corrections needs to ensure effective monitoring of offenders working with organisations on community work.

“Finally, Corrections has a responsibility to ensure that when work is completed through another party, that everyone knows and understands what is required of them and what work can and should not be undertaken.

“Since the tragedy, Corrections has taken steps to improve their processes and we will continue to work with them to ensure offenders are as safe as possible when doing community work,” said Mr Stewart.

Note to editors

Under the Crown Organisations (Criminal Liability) Act 2002 there can be no fine against a government agency. However, at sentencing today Chief District Court Judge Jan Marie Doogue determined that if she had been able to impose a fine on Corrections, it would have been $84,000.

Corrections was ordered to pay reparations of $155,000 for emotional harm to the victim’s family, and a further 17,471.12 to the victim’s father for financial losses. There is a reserved judgement on reparation for one other party.

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