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Health and Safety News Round-up

Summations and links to recent health and safety cases.  

Solidarity to the whānau and friends of the victims. 

Forestry private prosecution: employer continues blames worker for their own death

After three days of hearing evidence in the Napier District Court we now await the Judge’s decision on whether a Forestry company is guilty of failing to meet its Health and Safety at Work obligations.  

Niko Brooking-Hodgson was killed on the job in a Hawkes Bay forestry plantation in August 2016. 

This private prosecution was brought forward by a determined effort by Niko’s father Richard Brooking after WorkSafe decided not to prosecute the forestry company.  

In court, the employer’s case continued to place blame on Nico.  

Rebecca Macfie has written about the case on Newsroom here. 

Since Nico’s death, WorkSafe’s data centre reports another 30 workers have died in the forestry sector, and almost a thousand (999) injuries resulting in more than a week away from work have occurred.  

Jail sentences for two men who covered up poor health and safety practices

A recent district court sentencing provides a timely reminder of the need to ensure our health and safety laws can adequately hold offenders accountable.  

Two men received jail sentences after they covered up poor health and safety practices that caused a worker to suffer brain damage. This injury was avoidable had proper processes to protect the worker had been in place.  

The two men plead guilty to charges laid by WorkSafe in 2019 for their business’s poor health and safety practices that saw a worker suffer an anoxic brain injury from toxic solvent exposure.  

However, it came to light that this sentencing was “not carried out with a full understanding of [the offender’s] failings” as it was discovered that the defendants had covered up the fact that another worker had suffered a similar exposure one week before the (other worker’s almost fatal exposure) by destroying documents. 

The Judge characterised their actions as “barefaced lies” that should not “be expected of a company director who has any integrity and any regard to his obligations in that role”.  

“Nothing short of a term of imprisonment is appropriate here”.   

Labour hire company failed in its duty of care to two young men who died driving to work

A coroner has found that serious deficiency in health and safety systems and processes contributed to the death of two young workers and referred the case back to WorkSafe to take another look.  

Coroner Janet Anderson also stated it would be good to clarify the laws around where employers facilitated travel following the inquest in Palmerston North   

Jake Ginders (23), and Floyd Harris (21) were killed on their way to work as labour-hire workers in a fatal car-crash in January 2019.  

The coroner highlighted the difficulties of labour-hire workers to speak out on matters of health and safety.  

Phil Pennington’s two part write-up on the case can be found here (Part One / Part Two). 

Successful appeal against deportation for man paralysed in workplace incident

Finally, a tribunal has granted a humanitarian appeal against deportation to a man paralysed in a workplace accident.  

The man had his spine broken after a car and forklift toppled onto him. Following the incident he was driven home by his employer to make it seem like the accident occurred at home.  

Fear of deportation stopped the man from accessing health service which nearly killed him. 

He has now been granted a resident visa.