Compensatory moves after accident

Plunket Electrical Oamaru Ltd and McConnell Dowell Constructors Ltd have committed to a raft of measures and to pay the victim of a workplace accident in North Otago two years ago.

WorkSafe New Zealand said it had accepted enforceable undertakings from the two companies after its investigation into an incident at Peaks Pump Station, near Ngapara, in September 2016, found failures from both companies had contributed to an unnecessary injury of a man when a 1400kg switchboard tipped forward and partially crushed him during installation.

The man, one of three Plunket Electrical employees installing the switchboard at a McConnell Dowell-managed site, was left with crush injuries and a lacerated spleen and "would have been crushed and trapped by the full weight of the switchboard had it not landed on a steel stand nearby", a WorkSafe statement said.

WorkSafe investigations and specialist services deputy general manager Simon Humphries said poor planning and a failure to appropriately manage risks contributed to the "lucky escape", and the regulator would monitor compliance of the undertakings.

Plunket Electrical committed to: a voluntary payment to the victim and other staff involved in the incident, including an ACC top-up for the victim, in addition to a voluntary payment already made; providing courses and a talk to staff; paying $15,000 for a health and safety radio or digital campaign; developing safety videos; publishing safety articles in industry publications; donating $5000 to St John, and $5000 to the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter; and covering the costs for SiteSafe or a similar organisation to attend and run a stall at the North Otago A&P show.

McConnell Dowell committed to: providing financial assistance to the victim; developing and providing workshops around high-risk work procedures; providing safety leadership training; developing a practice guide and ConstructSafe certification for the electrical industry; publishing articles for industry publications; making a donation to the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter; and sponsoring a St John first aid course for up to 20 people from the local farming community.Plunket Electrical director Mark Rawson said the incident "brought home the fact that although we place a strong emphasis on health and safety for our employees, there are always areas that need improving."

"Thinking that ‘this will never happen to us’ is not an option for anyone."

McConnell Dowell New Zealand and Pacific Islands managing director Fraser Wyllie said the company "deeply" regretted the incident.

"Everyone deserves to go home without harm at the end of the day," he said.

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