WorkSafe New Zealand v The Sunday Hive Company Ltd [2018] NZDC 20796

Published 12 September 2019

Sentencing — failure to ensure health and safety of other persons — fatal accident — beehives — reparations — fines — Stumpmaster v WorkSafe New Zealand [2018] NZHC 2020 — Department of Labour v Hanham & Philp Contractors Ltd (2009) 9 NZELC 93,095; (2008) 6 NZELR 79 — Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, ss 22, 36(2), 48 & 151(2). The defendant company appeared for sentence on a charge of failure to ensure health and safety of other persons. The owner of the company and the victim were placing beehives in a remote location when their truck lost control and rolled down a hill. The victim died in the accident. The Court set a figure of $100,000 for reparations, having assessed the amounts paid in comparable cases. In assessing the defendant's culpability, the Court found that it had failed to conduct an effective risk assessment of the work to be carried out, and had also failed to ensure that a safe system of work was developed, monitored and implemented. It was obligated to do so even though it was a part-time business that was run as a hobby. The Court also found that the defendant's owner had taken an obvious risk, of driving on steep terrain in bad weather and in an unsuitable vehicle. To do so was a significant departure from industry standards. Taking account of all these factors, the Court assessed the defendant's culpability as falling towards the bottom end of high, meaning a fine of $700,000. The defendant earned credits for reparation, remorse, cooperation with the investigation, and guilty plea, reducing the fine to $420,000. In the circumstances the Court decided to not impose a fine, but did order costs of $806.50. Judgment Date: 3 October 2018.