Health and Safety Sentence Sends Clear Message
16 october 2007
Ryman Healthcare Limited has been sentenced in the Christchurch District Court to a $22,500 fine for three breaches of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
The Department of Labour had initiated the prosecution after investigating construction work being conducted at the company’s Aidenfield site in Christchurch.
The investigation found significant hazards at the site which placed employees and contractors at risk of serious harm. The hazards included working at heights without fall protection, poorly constructed scaffolding and the unsafe use of a Manitou Telehandler Forklift.
Ryman Healthcare pleaded guilty to all charges and was fined $7,500 for each of the three breaches. While Rymans had had a good record to date, in handing down the sentence the Judge said there was clear potential for danger and the offences couldn’t be swept under the carpet or said to be minimal.
Sheila McBreen-Kerr, Regional Manager for the Department of Labour, says the sentence sends a clear message to employers.
“While no-one was injured, there was a real risk of serious harm to the workers on the site.”
“The sentence handed down yesterday tells employers that they shouldn’t wait for an incident to happen before assessing their workplace for hazards. All companies are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their employees," she said.
The Department of Labours role includes enforcement and prosecutions, but is also about supporting organisations to ensure their systems are robust.
Ms McBreen-Kerr said “We will continue working with Rymans to ensure they have an effective safety culture going forward.”
In recent discussions with the Department of Labour, Rymans Chief Executive Simon Challies acknowledged their responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees and contractors working on their behalf, and were disappointed that the breaches had occurred. Rymans took immediate steps once the safety issues had been discovered and have been working constructively with the Department of Labour to ensure they provide a safe and healthy workplace for all their employees.
To the journalist: Please note that Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) should now be referred to as the Department of Labour.