Neglecting to notify the relevant government departments of workplace accidents can lead to big costs for companies – as demonstrated by the fine handed down to an Auckland company last week.
Mondiale Freight Services, New Zealand’s largest privately owned fright company, was fined a total of $62,475 for failing to report a series of workplace accidents.
The former Department of Labour – now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) – took the company to court after an investigation into a 2010 workplace accident revealed a number of other unreported accidents had occurred.
The investigation led to six separate charges against the company under the Health & Safety in Employment Act, MBIE health and safety manager Claire Morris said.
“Each of the unreported accidents had involved serious harm to a worker... And the company had a legal obligation to report them as soon as they occurred, and then follow up with formal written notification, she commented.
The accidents, all occurred within the space of a year, and involved a crushed foot, another a fractured thumb requiring six weeks off work and another a fractured rib requiring a month off work.
Workers had a fundamental right to expect to go home safe after work, Morris said, and yet, not only did that not happen in these cases, but the employer had taken a lackadaisical and unacceptable attitude to its notification responsibilities.
“This case should come as a big wake-up call to those with notification obligations. The MBIE urges all employers and others to make sure they notify us when required if serious harm incidents occur on the job.”
Morris said that, in the event of a workplace accident, all employers, company principals and self-employed workers had a legal obligation to:
Notify the MBIE by phone (0800 20 90 20) or by email as soon as possible; and
Provide the MBIE with written notice of the circumstances of the accident within a week. (Notification can be made via email, fax or post to the nearest regional MBIE office.)
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