Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Scaffolding company fined after rotten plank broke under worker

File photo / Christine Cornege
File photo / Christine Cornege

A scaffolding company ordered to pay $45,500 after a worker suffered head injuries in a fall from a rotten, badly installed plank has defended its safety record.

The engineering contractor fell 3.5m at a Rotorua building site after the scaffolding plank he was standing on snapped last July.

An investigation found the plank was riddled with soft-rot fungi and had not been fully secured to the scaffolding.

A-Z Rigging and Scaffolding Ltd, which installed the scaffolding, was sentenced in Rotorua District Court today on two charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

The company was fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $15,500 reparations.

Company owner Dudley Hoskin today said he accepted the sentence.

"What the court hands down is what the court hands down,'' he told APNZ.

"I feel sorry for the guy who got hurt. I'm glad he's got reparation, but I've offered him more reparation if required.''

Mr Hoskin said he had been in the business for 26 years and he stood by the company's "very comprehensive'' health and safety policy.

He had been told the contractor had jumped down onto the plank before it broke.

Mr Hoskin said the company tested all its planks and dried them off before they were used again.

He did not know how, but the plank had suffered an impact and showed evidence of deterioration.

Mr Hoskin said the plank was one of thousands and had "slipped through the cracks''.

The tradesman who worked on the site was a qualified scaffolder, but had failed to lash the pegs down.

"I'm going to do everything I can to see that it doesn't happen again.''

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment central region health and safety manager Ona De Rooy said the accident was a timely reminder for companies to follow the proper procedures for erecting scaffolding.

"Falls from any height can be deadly, so the victim is extremely lucky to still be alive,'' she said.

"A-Z should have followed a few simple but necessary procedures to prevent this this accident from happening.''

Ms De Rooy said that included regularly testing the planks, keeping proper records of the testing, and stacking the planks properly to ensure they were dry.

- APNZ

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