Request denied for reduced fine | IMPAC health and safety 38

3 September, 2018  |  News

Three companies fined earlier in the year for failing to comply with workplace duties have requested appeals, with mixed results.

According to the court notes, Tasman Tanning Co, Stumpmaster, and Niagara Sawmilling Co Ltd were all fined for failing to comply with a workplace duty - such failures having exposed someone to risk of death, serious injury, or serious illness.

The companies, feeling that their fines were too high, all appealed to the High Court.

 

business money pink coinsThe companies appealed to the High Court that their fines were excessive. Photo by skitterphoto.com on Pexels.com.

 

What were the initial fines and outcomes?

Niagara Sawmilling were fined $500,000 after an employee using a grader/trimmer machine had two of his fingers partially amputated while trying to dislodge a piece of snagged wood. According to WorkSafe, there have been over 400 work-related incidents that resulted in amputations since 2016 and 99 of them happened between January and July 2018.

The fixed guard that was installed was not adequate protection, according to the court. An external specialist had recommended changes, but the site’s health and safety advisor didn’t agree, so no action was taken.

Ultimately, the High Court agreed with the original fine, and the appeal for a reduced fine was dismissed.

Stumpmaster had more luck, with their fine of $250,000 being reduced to $90,000.

They failed their workplace duty when a victim walked into a danger area – which was found to be inadequately protected – and a tree fell on her, resulting in her being hospitalised for 6 days.

Tasman Tanning Co, the third company contesting their fines in the court notes, were also successful with their appeal.

They were fined $380,000 after a solution known as "pickle liquor" was mixed incorrectly and hydrogen sulphide was produced. A forklift driver fainted due to the fumes and knocked himself out, leading to him experiencing memory loss, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches.

The High Court ruled that “one would not expect protocols to be in place for what was a one-off made-up activity by senior employees.”  However, they agreed that the communication errors which followed are indicative of poor systems.

The High Court quashed the original fine and, in its place, imposed a fine of $363,000 – a $17,000 reduction.