Boat company fined after employee breaks neck

An Auckland custom boat building company has been ordered to pay more than $40,000 after an employee fractured his neck. Photo / Thinkstock
An Auckland custom boat building company has been ordered to pay more than $40,000 after an employee fractured his neck. Photo / Thinkstock

An Auckland custom boat building company has been ordered to pay more than $40,000 after an employee fractured his neck in a four metre fall in January.

Alloy Yachts International Limited appeared in the Waitakere District Court today and was fined $39,000 and ordered to pay $14,000 in reparation to the employee.

The Court heard the accident happened when Trevor Markham, an engineer, was installing a handrail at the top of some stairs on a yacht.

As he was descending the stairs, he lost his footing and fell.

The momentum from his fall carried him across a swim deck, and he fell a further 3.7 metres down onto a concrete floor below.

"The injuries sustained as a result of this accident were very serious: multiple fractures to his hip and spine, a fracture to his neck, and several broken ribs," said Northern health and safety manager of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), John Howard.

"The employer failed to take appropriate steps to protect the safety of its workers. This is simply not good enough," said Mr Howard.

"MBIE's investigation into the incident found that Alloy Yachts had removed a lifeline which could have prevented the fall.

"On top of that, we discovered that scaffolding around the stern section of the hull also failed to meet the required standards to prevent falls.

"This company is a leader in its field and has an international reputation. It needs to bring its health and safety management to the same standard," said Mr Howard.

Alloy Yachts Health and Safety Supervisor, Steven Watkins said Alloy Yachts has reviewed and overhauled health and safety practices since the accident, and has made many changes.

"We have a very robust health and safety policy in place on the whole site, regardless of what the Department of Labour actually states."

Mr Markham has since recovered from his injuries and has continued working for Alloy Yachts.

Alloy Yachts is described on their website as a "company of tradespeople" with more than 300 employees.

- APNZ

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