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Company director fined under HSWA 2015

The sentencing is a timely reminder for directors to ensure their companies comply with health and safety obligations under the Act.

type
Article
author
By Institute of Directors
date
22 Oct 2021
read time
1 min to read
gavel on a marble table

A director and his company, Kimberley Tool and Design (NZ) Ltd, have been fined a total of $155,000 under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (‘HWSA’) following an incident in 2018 where a worker’s fingers were crushed while operating a metal press. The injury resulted in the worker’s fingers being partially amputated. This was the first successful prosecution and sentencing of a director under the HWSA, with the director being fined $35,000 and the company fined $120,000.

Worksafe’s investigation of the incident found a number of issues with the company’s health and safety processes including:

  • The metal press was not properly guarded and did not have the required emergency stop button
  • There was a previous history of the machine not operating as expected, which had not been identified as a risk
  • The company’s induction and staff training was “haphazard and undocumented” and there was no evidence of the worker having been properly trained in the machine’s use
  • The company already had two previous convictions for incidents involving presses and injuries to workers’ hands and fingers, and
  • The company had been non-compliant with three previous Worksafe Improvement Notices.

The director was sentenced under the HWSA for failing to comply with his duty as an Officer to exercise due diligence to ensure the company complied with its duties as a PCBU (a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking under the HWSA). The failure to comply with that duty exposed his workers to risk of serious injury. The company was sentenced under the HWSA for failing in its duty to ensure the safety of its workers, thereby exposing the workers to a risk of serious injury.

The sentencing is a timely reminder for directors that they can face enforcement proceedings under the HWSA if they fail to exercise due diligence to ensure their companies comply with their health and safety obligations under the HWSA.

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