WorkSafe Prosecution Corner

20 Oct 2020

Two men have been sentenced after poorly planned excavation work caused a power pole to fall onto a suburban road.

Project manager Hayim Nahum engaged Kumar Vasist to install a retaining wall and construct a car deck at a property in Wellington in February 2018. The work required the installation of poles, drilling and excavation.

WorkSafe Chief Inspector Steve Kelly said the excavation work was done close to a power pole causing it to come down. Although no one was injured, the incident had the potential to crush or electrocute members of the public as the power pole fell onto a public road.

Mr Nahum was fined $2,500 and Mr Vasist was fined $5,000. Both men’s fines were reduced due to financial circumstances.

“A Northpower Limited worker visited the site three to four weeks before the incident and spoke with Mr Vasist after noticing a retaining wall was being constructed under the power lines,” said Mr Kelly.

“The minimum approach distance for this kind of work is four metres and - the work was in breach of that.

“Mr Vasist confirmed he was aware he was getting close to the pole and told the Northpower worker that he wouldn’t be conducting any further excavation work. However, despite being aware of the risks he continued on with the dangerous work which resulted in the power pole coming down.

“Both Mr Nahum and Mr Vasist failed to consult with one another throughout the project to ensure work was carried out safely. Neither obtained a close approach permit from Wellington Electricity Lines prior to excavation work or carried out any risk assessment.

“A failure to consult and coordinate with others involved on the job ended with a power pole crashing down, and this put the public at risk.”