The District Court has fined an employer after an employee slipped off a trailer that he was riding on and was run over, suffering serious spinal and other injuries.

In addition to the fine the employer was also ordered to pay $90,000 in reparation to the employee. 

The employee was a migrant worker with limited understanding of English and the Court held that in that case the employer had an increased duty to ensure that the worker understood the health and safety procedures.  No worker should have been standing on the trailer’s drawbar while it was moving and that this was common practice on the farm.  Where employees have limited understanding of English the employer must take extra steps to ensure they understand the health and safety requirements.

The employer’s failure to take all practical steps to keeps its employees safe has resulted in significant life changing injuries for the employee and significant financial penalties for the employer.  A simple assessment of the risks of riding on the front of a trailer while it is being moved about a farm should have alerted the employer this was an unacceptable practice and the employee should have been instructed not to do so.  The employer should have followed up with that plan to ensure that it was being followed and that all employees understood why they were not allowed to act in that way.

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Alan Knowsley
Employment & Health & Safety Lawyer