The District Court has ordered an employer to pay $165,000 for failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers following an accident at work.

An experienced employee was found unresponsive by a co-worker after working with materials known to be a health hazard. Three days later the employee died.

WorkSafe’s investigation discovered that the employer had not carried out its essential health and safety obligations. No worksite risk assessment was performed and there was no safety plan in place for the use of hazardous chemicals. The employer relied entirely upon the employee’s experience to protect himself.

WorkSafe emphasised that the particular chemical being used was a known hazard, and that the approach that the employer took toward its health and safety obligations was unacceptable.

The Court ordered the employer to pay a fine of $60,000 and to pay reparations of $105,000 to the employee’s family. The employer has since implemented improvements to its operations.

Failure to ensure that health and safety obligations are being met may result in serious harm to employees, and potentially expensive prosecutions for the employer. If there are concerns that the health and safety plan in your workplace is inadequate, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

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