'Seriously dodgy' workplace costs firm $180K

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A company with a track record of breaches of safety law has been fined $180,000 for failures to provide its workers with a safe working environment.

Even though no one was injured, the risks posed by the Auckland scaffolding company’s conduct were clear breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and not consistent with the industry standards and guidelines.

Dong Xing Group Ltd was sentenced in the North Shore District Court for failing to install a safe scaffold.

Consequently, the workers have been exposed to risks including falls, electric shocks and scaffold collapse.

Head of WorkSafe’s general inspectorate Jo Pugh said the company’s disregard for the safety of workers using scaffolding was alarming.

“This was a seriously dodgy set up and it is not the way to do scaffolding,” said Pugh.

“If scaffolding is not maintained and not set up properly, then your workers are walking on a tightrope of risk.”

An Auckland City Council building inspector notified WorkSafe of their concerns after visiting the site and a WorkSafe investigation found that the site lacked adequate systems for ensuring the health and safety of workers using the scaffolding.

This included unmanaged risk of electric shock from a live 230 volt powerline that was at times touching the scaffold, the risk of fall from a height of four metres and the risk of scaffold collapsing as a result of excessive corrosion.

Pugh added that this is a company that had been warned, repeatedly, and continued to flout the law.

“It is a reminder to everyone providing scaffolding to ensure their systems are up to scratch and their equipment maintained and fit for purpose.”

Dong Xing had previously been issued with one infringement notice, eight prohibition notices, and nine improvement notices for health and safety matters on building sites between December 2011 and 12 August 2016.

HRD recently reported that the meat processing company Alliance Group Limited has been fined $332,000 for failing to ensure the safety of a Timaru employee whose hand was amputated in a piece of machinery in March 2017. WorkSafe New Zealand prosecutor Emma Jeffs said the consequence was “extremely severe and will have a life-long impact on the worker”.

The employee had been at the plant for only five days and was left unsupervised on a task when the incident occurred.

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