Cases That Broke the Bank

The importance of risk assessments and implementing appropriate controls – including training and monitoring workers to ensure they’re working safely, was a dominant message in the sentencing of Avon Industries Limited on health and safety charges.

The Whangarei District Court released their sentencing decision on Wednesday, March 21, after Avon Industries appeared in court for sentencing in February.

Avon Industries is a production engineering firm who carry out work that includes hot dip galvanising at temperatures over 450°C.

In October 2016 a team of workers were regalvanising chain when the bespoke machine they were using jammed. A worker climbed onto the frame of the machine, which was situated above a bath of molten and zinc, to shake the chain free.

The worker’s left foot fell through a gap in the frame and went into the bath, resulting in molten zinc pouring into the worker’s boot. He sustained deep burns to his left foot and ankle and spent 21 days in hospital as a result of the incident.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that Avon Industries had not conducted a risk assessment on either the process or the machine. They did not have in place a safe system of work, or a formal training programme for dealing with machine malfunctions – even though chain jams were a known issue.

“A positive safety culture is imperative in high risk industries. It is not enough for a company to only identify a hazard – they need to manage that hazard appropriately” says WorkSafe deputy general manager, Investigations and Specialist Services, Simon Humphries.

“This means preparing your staff for the work they are doing and monitoring their competence going forward. An ad-hoc and informal approach to safety puts workers at risk. It is not enough to tell your staff that hot metal is dangerous and learning from the person before them is not enough to prevent a worker from harm.”

  • A fine of $371,250 was imposed
  • Reparations of $30,000 were ordered
  • Costs of $1584.50 were ordered
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

Hefty fine for ‘woefully inadequate’ effluent management

A Te Kowhai dairy farmer has been convicted and fined $35,625 in the Hamilton District Court for allowing large volumes of dairy effluent to overflow into the environment.

The contamination was identified during a routine inspection by Waikato Regional Council in March 2017 as part of its compliance monitoring programme.

The prosecution against Edward Smith, brought by the council, related to an overflowing effluent holding pond and a blocked effluent drainage pipe, each resulting in overland flows of dairy effluent.

In sentencing Mr Smith, Judge Melanie Harland commented on the inadequacies of the effluent infrastructure on his farm, saying it was “barely adequate” and concluding that the management of the system was “woefully inadequate”.

The council’s investigations manager, Patrick Lynch, agreed with the judge that “investment in the effluent infrastructure, and the management of it, needs to be afforded a very high priority.

“This fine is yet another clear message from the court that people who do not take their environmental responsibilities seriously will be heavily penalised.”

Fined for underpaying staff

An Indian restaurant chain has been fined more than $40,000 in penalties after several breaches to employment law, despite having paid more than $24,000 to staff in arrears previously.

Shamiana Limited and Shamiana Enterprises Limited, with Satish Shetty as the sole director and shareholder, have been fined $41,000 in penalties after several breaches to employment law.

Following complaints received by the Labour Inspectorate, it’s been found that Mr Shetty failed to pay staff minimum wage and holiday pay, as well as keep correct employment agreements.

These repeat breaches of the law meant that Shamiana Limited was ordered to pay $33,000 and similarly, Shamiana Enterprises Limited was ordered to pay $18,000.

Author: fatweb

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