WorkSafe New Zealand v The Homegrown Juice Co Ltd [2019] NZDC 16605

Published 14 February 2020

Sentencing — failing to ensure health and safety of workers — death of employee — filling machine — asphyxiation — lack of interlocking — Stumpmaster v Worksafe New Zealand [2018] NZHC 2020 — Worksafe New Zealand v Easton Agriculture [2018] NZDC 2003 — Worksafe New Zealand v Stevens & Stevens Limited [2018] NZDC 9987 — Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, ss 22 & 154. The defendant appeared for sentence on a charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers. The charge arose from an incident where one of the defendant's employees got her clothing caught in a filling machine, became trapped in the machine and died of asphyxiation. In 2016 WorkSafe advised the defendant that the machine needed to be interlocked and the defendant attempted to get an interlock installed, but ultimately failed to do so. The defendant accepted that it should have undertaken a risk assessment for the machine, installed appropriate guards and interlocks, developed a safe operating procedure for operating the machine, and provided its employees with proper training and instruction. Following the incident the defendant had proper interlocks installed, as well as adding switches and buttons to improve the machine's safety. The Court ordered reparations of $90,000 to the victim's husband, along with awards of $8919.11 for consequential losses, $42,716.22 in ACC top-ups and $1500 in solicitor's costs. In assessing the amount of fine, the Court observed that the risk was obvious and cheap to remedy, and that the defendant's actions failed to meet industry standards. The start point for fine was $700,000. The Court applied discounts for prior good record, cooperation with investigation, remedial steps, offer to pay reparations, and the final fine was $367,000.50. Judgment Date: 14 August 2019.