Auckland carpentry company Five Star Homes NZ and its sole director have each been fined $5000 for failing to notify authorities of a serious workplace accident that left a worker paralysed from the chest down.
The company was fined $5000 at Auckland District Court today after it failed to notify the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) of the accident that happened at its Remuera worksite in August 2011.
The company's director, Lei Chen, was also fined the same amount for failing to notify MBIE after being expressly told to do so by the principal contractor on the job.
All employers and contractors are legally required to report serious harm incidents to the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) as soon as possible and then follow-up with written notice within seven days.
The court took into consideration the director's financial circumstances when deciding on the fine.
The worker, who had been subcontracted by Five Star Homes, was injured after falling 2.7 metres from the roof of a building he was working on, suffering permanent spinal injuries which have left him paralysed.
AA Quality Building Service, the principal contractor who engaged Five Star Homes, instructed Chen to notify MBIE of the accident immediately after it happened.
However, he waited two months to do so, by which time MBIE had already been made aware of the accident by ACC.
"This type of behaviour is simply not acceptable and MBIE has zero tolerance towards those who engage in it," said Northern health and safety manager for the ministry, John Howard.
"MBIE takes reporting very seriously and we have a fundamental expectation that we are notified when serious harm incidents occur in a workplace."
The delay in notifying MBIE about the accident meant it couldn't be property investigated as to how it happened, who was responsible, and most importantly, how it could be prevented in future, Howard said.
Five Star Homes and Chen were charged under Section 25(3)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, which covers reporting of a serious accident.
Most workplace accidents involving serious harm are charged under a different section of the Act covering whether the employer has taken all practicable steps to avoid harm to their staff in the workplace.
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