WorkSafe New Zealand v Atlas Scaffolding Timaru Ltd [2019] NZDC 12621

Published 17 September 2021

Sentencing — failing to ensure health and safety of workers — scaffold — powerlines — risk of shock or electrocution — failing to identify risks — failing to consult with line company — failing to follow Code of Practice — failing to inspect scaffolding — financial capacity of defendant — Stumpmaster v WorkSafe New Zealand [2018] NZHC 2020 — Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 — Sentencing Act 2002, ss 7-10, 8H, 14(1), 40(1) & 41. The defendant appeared for sentence after pleading guilty to charges of failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers who were installing a scaffold, and failing to ensure the health and safety of those who could be reasonably expected to use the scaffold. The scaffold had been placed dangerously close to powerlines, thereby exposing the workers and others to the risk of shock and electrocution. The problems were discovered by chance by a WorkSafe inspector, and nobody was injured. The defendant had failed to identify the risks associated with the powerlines, failed to consult with the line company about the risks associated with the powerlines, failed to take steps to reduce the danger from the powerlines, failed to ensure that the work was undertaken in accordance with the relevant Code of Practice, and failed to have the scaffold inspected by a competent person prior to use. The Court found that the offending fell into the mid-level of medium range, and adopted a start point for fine of $475,000. The Court added a 5 per cent uplift for previous poor safety record, and then applied discounts for remorse and cooperation and guilty plea. Taking into account the defendant's financial situation, the Court set the final fine at $50,000 plus costs of $1453.28. Judgment Date: 20 June 2019.