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Sat December 15 2018

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NZ builder fined over death on damaged public footpath

12 Nov A damaged footpath close to a New Zealand building site led to an elderly man’s death and has resulted in a NZ$100,000 (£50,000) fine.

Building development company YSB Group Limited was fined by the Manukau District Court in relation to the case in which the retired man fell from a mobility scooter on a damaged section of footpath.   

The footpath had been damaged by heavy vehicles during the development of a Papatoetoe housing site. The victim was driving a mobility scooter in March 2017 when the scooter tipped on the uneven terrain and the driver fell to the ground and was fatally injured.

New Zealand safety authority WorkSafe said that the circumstances are a reminder that workplaces have a responsibility for others interacting with their worksite, as well as those completing work on it.

WorkSafe’s investigation found there was significant pedestrian activity on the footpath and that YSB Group did not identify the damaged footpath as a risk. The investigation also found that it would have been reasonably practicable for YSB Group to block off the damaged footpath, establish a safe alternative route for pedestrians and to have developed, implemented and communicated a site access plan.

WorkSafe’s head of specialist interventions Simon Humphries said that pedestrians frequently have interactions with worksites – even if they aren’t directly on them.

“We expect all workplaces to think broadly about the impacts of their activities on the health and safety of everyone at a workplace,” he said. “Other people potentially at risk from work activities include volunteers, customers, passers-by, visitors, or workers from another entity. 

“Some simple actions from YSB Group, and consideration of others interacting with their worksite could have saved this man’s life.”

One other party has been charged in relation to the matter.  They are yet to appear in court.

The NZ$100,000 fine was reduced from a starting point of NZ$550,000 for mitigating factors and financial circumstances. Reparation of NZ$100,000 was also ordered.

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