Two parties were fined a total of $63,000 after twice disregarding WorkSafe notices about unsafe work from a height, and putting workers at risk of serious harm.
The Judge also imposed a Project Order under section 155 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, which require both parties to prepare and present at least three safety seminars and produce an article outlining the incident and the lessons learned from it for publication in an industry magazine.
Construction company RLT Homes Ltd and Ryan William Neutze, a sole trader builder, were both sentenced at the Timaru District Court on 6 May 2020 for failing to ensure workers were protected from a risk of falling from a height while building farm sheds at a Timaru property.
In 2018 RLT Homes Ltd was contracted to build the sheds and Ryan William Neutze was engaged to carry out work. When work commenced WorkSafe were contacted with concerns about unsafe work taking place at the site.
WorkSafe’s Head of General Inspectorate Jo Pugh said an inspector visited the site and immediately observed a number of failings.
“There was nothing to prevent a fall from height onto the concrete below and there was no edge protection. As well as this, neither of the two workers, who were employed by Ryan William Neutze, was wearing a harness.”
Ms Pugh said even more disappointingly the workers did not have the ability to get down from the roof at the time of WorkSafe’s visit.
“The only way for them to get down was if a third person collected a ladder, allowing them access to it. As a result of this, a prohibition notice was issued, stopping work on the sheds until appropriate safety measures were in place.
“As a result of the Inspector’s visit, a Prohibition Notice was issued. RLT Homes provided edge protection to the site to be installed by workers of Neutze.
“When a WorkSafe inspector visited to check in on the installation of the new safety measures they noted they hadn’t been installed properly, rendering them useless.”
A second Prohibition Notice was issued, and WorkSafe launched an investigation over the lack of fall protection on site.
“Both RLT Homes and Neutze should have taken the first Prohibition Notice as a very clear message that health and safety standards on the site were not up to scratch. Then they should have immediately worked to remedy the problem.
“Instead they cut corners by installing shoddy fall protection.
“Both parties failed to ensure work was carried out safely despite both having responsibilities for employees’ health and safety.
“The disregard for workers safety, not once, but twice, is unacceptable. If WorkSafe is made aware of any unsafe work from a height taking place businesses can be assured that there will be consequences.”
RLT Homes Ltd
- A fine of $40,000 was imposed.
- RLT Homes Limited to comply with a Project Order and specified work set out in it pursuant to s155 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
- RLT Homes Ltd was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
- Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers at work in the business or undertaking. Did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed individuals, to a risk of death or serious injury arising from a fall from height.
- S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.
Ryan William Neutze
- A fine of $23,000 was imposed.
- Ryan William Neutze to comply with a Project Order and specified work set out in it pursuant to s155 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
- Ryan William Neutze was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(b) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
- Being a PCBU, having a duty to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU, while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking, did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed individuals to a risk of death or serious injury arising from fall from height.
- S 48(2)(b) carries a maximum penalty of $300,000.