Christchurch worker left paralysed after fall from unsafe platform

Fundamentally, businesses need to ensure that plant is safe, says WorkSafe New Zealand. Having health and safety policies and procedures will not protect workers unless they’re fully and effectively implemented, so engineering controls have to be considered first.

In July 2018 a worker at Champion Flour Milling Limited in Christchurch was paralysed from the waist down when she fell 3.7 metres from the unsafe fixed platform and unsecured ladder she was using to undertake maintenance on a grain conveyor.

WorkSafe investigated the life-changing incident and discovered multiple safety failings. The platform had no guard rails or permanent access and didn’t meet industry standards. The worker was also required to wear a harness however there were no rated anchor points for her to attach to. WorkSafe said that the failings were obvious.

WorkSafe also found that while Champion had policies and procedures for working at height, they were not effectively implemented, WorkSafe Chief Inspector Steve Kelly said.

“A worker now faces a very different life because Champion did not meet its obligations to her.”

WorkSafe prosecuted Champion for its failings and a reserved judgment was released last month.

The court imposed a fine of $310,000 and ordered reparation of $100,000.

Notes:

  • A fine of $310,000 was ordered.
  • Reparation of $100,000 was imposed.
  • Champion Flour Milling 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 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, namely carrying out maintenance on an elevated plant at its Christchurch milling plant, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of death or serious injury arising from a fall from height.
  • S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.

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