NZSKI give evidence in court case
Coronet Peak staff gave evidence today in a case against NZSki after two walkers were injured in a fall from a chairlift.
A lift operator and lift operations manager were questioned during an evidence hearing before a registrar in Queenstown District Court.
In April, NZSki entered not guilty pleas to two charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act after an Auckland couple fell from the Coronet Express upper chairlift station on August 2 last year.
NZSki lawyer Glenn Jones, of Lane Neave, and ministry lawyer Jamie Eng questioned Coronet Peak lift operator David Hunt and lift operations manager Cody Stake.
Mr Hunt said he explained how to get on the lift, recorded the chair number and called the liftie at the top, Tara Wade.
''I recorded the chair number, called the top operator, told them we had an older couple and they may need assistance.
''It's up to their best judgment. I told her they were an older couple, they may need a slow. It's a judgment call, it's their call how to safely unload.''
The court was told the chairlift automatically slowed to one quarter of its speed at the top bullwheel, when the lifts disengage from the main tow and connect to a secondary pulley system.
Operators could choose to further reduce speed with two optional slow speeds or a complete stop.
He replied ''no'' when asked whether he was aware that the off-loading procedure was not explained to the couple at the base.
Mr Stake told the court there was also an additional stop-gate that would be physically triggered by any ''bullwheel riders'' who failed to get off a chairlift.
Mr Eng asked whether there was specific policy at the time for lifties at the top to give their undivided attention to foot passengers.
Every liftie was trained to stay within easy reach of the slow/stop buttons but it was discretionary whether to slow or stop the lift for foot passengers, Mr Stake said.
''There are procedures in place, if somebody calls you it's the procedure for them to focus their attention on that chair. We have operational priorities. Safety always come first.
''I agree the top operator should have had the ability to slow the lift and because [Mr Hunt] called I think it should have been slowed.''
Charges were laid following a six-month investigation by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment labour team and each charge carries a maximum fine of $250,000.
The company was charged with failing to take all practicable steps to ensure no hazards arose, namely a fall from height, and harmed people who had paid to undertake an activity and failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of any employee while at work harmed any other person, namely the couple.
Name suppression was previously granted for the victims, who needed surgery for their injuries.
The hearing was adjourned until December 3.
- © Fairfax NZ News