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Can your organisation afford to be charged and pay fines for not conducting an adequate risk assessment? It is now a good reminder to check that you have adequate risk assessments to identify the risks in your mobile workplace.

In the last week, New Zealand’s Rangiora Carpets were fined $157,500 after a staff member suffered significant injuries after falling through a false ceiling floor while on the job. The employee fell through a mezzanine floor that was being used for storage and that had not been identified as a possible safety risk.

“Structures such as storage and filing facilities need to be considered for risk and have appropriate controls put in place,” WorkSafe General Manager Operations and Specialist Services Brett Murray said.

“Falls from height always present a significant risk. Even a fall of less than three metres can result in serious injuries or death. Identifying the need for a barrier to protect workers on the mezzanine floor was imperative to avoiding this incident.”

Findings from the WorkSafe investigation found that the company hadn’t completed a proper risk assessment of the area where the incident occurred, nor had any appropriate safety measures been put in place.

  • Rangiora Carpets Limited was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 2(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015:
    • Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who worked for the PCBU, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of death or serious injury.
  • The maximum penalty under section 48 is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

In this instance, the victim gets to go home to his family, but imagine if it is your colleague or co-worker who you regularly have a coffee or lunch with.

Health and safety risks are present in all parts of your organisation and are something that all employees need to be constantly aware of. A failure to keep on top of these issues can often lead to significant financial, legal and safety problems in the long term.

It is our collective responsibility to look out for those risks and to do something.

For more information about the WorkSafe investigation into Rangiora Carpets click here.