A Bay of Plenty business with an undocumented and ineffective health and safety process has been sentenced after a raised skip bin fell on a worker and inflicted a severe brain injury.
The victim, now 52 years old, was emptying the skip bin when it fell on his head and shoulders in March 2021. He later suffered several strokes in hospital and is likely to experience difficulties with his vision and swallowing food for the rest of his life.
The employer, Bin Boys Bay of Plenty, has been sentenced in the Tauranga District Court for health and safety failures that led to the incident. These include:
- failure to ensure that the risks when loading, unloading, or tipping a skip bin were identified, assessed, and minimised.
- failure to provide information and training for how to rig skip bins, and how to safely empty stuck material.
- failure to ensure that lifting equipment was installed, maintained, and used in line with best practice.
Bin Boys’ owners told WorkSafe its safety analysis for tipping bins was undocumented as it had been “mentally done”, and staff were to “jiggle” skip bins by moving trucks back and forth to dislodge debris.
“Bin Boys relied on informal, on-the-job training to satisfy itself that the victim, with no prior experience in similar work, was adequately trained and competent to do all parts of his role unsupervised by half-way through his third day on the job,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Paul West.
“This approach to health and safety is completely deficient, leading to tragic consequences and ultimately a loss of independence for the victim.
“Doing it right is not necessarily about creating paperwork, but about ensuring existing staff have all they need to do the job safely, and getting new workers on the same page. Employers should strive to eliminate workplace risks, or put appropriate measures in place to mitigate them wherever possible,” says Paul West.
- Robin Phillip Horne and Lorraine Joy Ruth Horne, in partnership, trading as Bin Boys Bay of Plenty was sentenced at the Tauranga District Court on 21 February 2023
- A fine of $250,000 was imposed and reparations of $100,000 ordered
- Bin Boys was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 48(2)(b) Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- On or about 31 March 2021, at Tauranga, being a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) having a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU, while workers were at work in the business or undertaking, namely while operating truck mounted lifting equipment to empty a skip bin, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed workers to a risk of death or serious injury.
- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.