Workplace Prosecution Corner
24 May 2019
Height, trees and electricity made for a dangerous combination for a worker.
The casual worker had been hired by an Auckland contractor to trim trees next to a powerline using an electric saw. A branch fell onto the power line resulting in the worker getting a shock. He then fell from the ladder he was standing on and sustained several injuries including a broken shoulder, back injuries and a concussion.
The employer was sentenced in the Waitakere District Court and received:
- 60 hours of community work
- A fine of $65,000
- Ordered to pay $20,000 to the worker as reparation.
A WorkSafe investigation found the contractor had not properly considered the risks involved with working near powerlines.
It also found he had not consulted documentation about working at height, tree trimming or working near electrical lines, and there was no hazard plan in place. Equipment provided to the worker including a metal ladder and saws used for trimming, were unsafe for use near electrical lines.
“An arborist should have been contacted, but instead the employer cut corners and hired someone who wasn’t qualified for the job,” WorkSafe chief inspector Steve Kelly said.
“[The contractor] was undertaking, controlling and supervising dangerous work he had no expertise in and as a result he put himself and the worker in serious danger.”
The fines came from provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, and the community service arose from a charge relating to section 163c of the Electricity Act 1992.
This Site Safe practical guide to hazard identification is a useful tool to reducing risk.