WorkSafe New Zealand v Rangiora Carpets Ltd [2017] NZDC 22587

Published 16 October 2017

Sentencing — Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 — Department of Labour and Hanham and Philp Contractors Limited and Others (2008) 6 NZELR 79. The defendant company supplies and installs floor coverings. The company's commercial building has a mezzanine floor approximately 2.7 meters high — adjacent to the floor is a false ceiling constructed out of plasterboard. There was no balustrade partitioning the mezzanine floor from the false ceiling to stop workers falling through. The victim had gone up to the mezzanine floor which was a cluttered area. The victim identified a box containing old paperwork, which was too heavy to lift and so bent down to push it along the carpet. The victims foot slipped off the side of the mezzanine floor, causing her to fall through the false ceiling to the floor below sustaining serious injury. Based on Hanham and Philp, the court needed to: 1) assess the amount of reparation; 2) fix the amount of fine; 3) note if any ancillary orders should be made; and 4) make an overall assessment of the appropriateness of the total imposition of reparation and fine. The court noted that the victim had sustained serious injury and set reparation at $20,000. The court fixed culpability around the middle band noting that the hazard was obvious and was "easily and cheaply remedied". The defendant received a discount for it's previous good record, and guilty plea with the fine being set at $157,500. In regard to ancillary orders, WorkSafe sought that the defendant pay towards the just and reasonable costs of prosecution and investigation — $1228 was awarded. During an overall assessment the court found that although the company did breach its obligation it is otherwise a responsible corporate citizen. The court ordered reparation in the sum of $20,000 and prosecution costs of $1228 to be paid, the total fine of $157,500 was to be paid over two years. Judgment Date: 4 October 2017