A former Hirequip manager lost his job after he failed to tell his manager for two days that a cherrypicker caught fire while someone was nine metres in the air.
Neil Adams was manager at the Whangerei Hirequip branch when he was dismissed in June 2010 for failing in his contractual obligations when he did not report the incident.
Mr Adams claimed he was unjustifiably dismissed and took it to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).
In an ERA decision released today it said that on June 4, 2010 the cherrypicker had been hired out to Phoenix Boats and the following day, while its operator was in the basket nine metres above the ground, the machine caught fire because of a fuel leak.
The operator made a slow descent until he was about halfway down and then jumped from the basket.
He was not injured and the fire was extinguished.
The customer continued to use the machine because he had work that had to be done with it, but had someone standing by with a fire extinguisher.
The machine was returned four days later and the worker who took the machine back into Hirequip's possession reported the incident to Mr Adams.
Mr Adams' manager, Nathan Abbott, did not find out about the incident until two days later. Hirequip's health and safety policy required Mr Adams to have told Mr Abbott about it within 24 hours.
Mr Adams said it was an inadvertent omission because he was busy.
Hirequip said Mr Adams failed in his job's obligations, as set out in his employment agreement and in its own policies and procedures, when he did not report the incident.
Following a series of disciplinary meetings Mr Adams was dismissed from his job for failing to follow the company's health and safety policy.
ERA member James Crichton found there was a fundamental breach of a branch manager's obligations to ensure and contribute to the safety of clients and colleagues when he did not report the incident and ruled Mr Adams was justifiably dismissed.
Hirequip chief executive Bryan Stephen today said it was a serious breach of its health and safety policies and the company was always confident that the ERA would rule in its favour.
"We just have a zero tolerance to breaches of health and safety, simple as that."
Mr Adams was not the first employee to "suffer from that fate".
"In this situation we do communicate out to the business that there has been a serious breach as a warning really, because you're dealing with people's health and lives."
- APNZBy Hana Garrett-Walker Email Hana