A construction company specialising in shop fit-outs has been fined $200,000 in the Manukau District Court after a worker suffered a broken back, fractured skull and traumatic brain injury from a fall.
WorkSafe said W Gartshore was fined in the Manukau District Court after a worker fell from a mobile scaffold at the Westfield Manukau shopping centre.
The man was seriously hurt.
WorkSafe's investigation found that the mobile scaffold had been disassembled to allow tiles to be laid and the victim, whose experience erecting mobile scaffolds had not been established by the company, was then asked to erect it once again.
Several problems were identified with the structure: the platform had been installed above the maximum height and there was no room for a top handrail making it dangerous.
"The scaffold, when not correctly erected, was unsafe, did not meet standards and should not have been in use," said WorkSafe's area manager Danielle Henry.
"Scaffolds are designed to allow safer work from a height however if they are not designed and erected correctly they put workers at greater risk.
"Where scaffolds are needed, businesses must adhere to standards and guidance to ensure they are fit for purpose and will keep workers safe. This means they must be constructed and checked by a competent person before and during use," Henry said.
The company should have ensured it had a competent person putting up and checking that the rig had been erected correctly before and while it was in use.
Instead, it cut corners to get the job done, WorkSafe said.
"As a result, this victim has suffered from injuries that have continued to affect them to this day," Henry said.
Reparation of $60,000 had previously been paid to the victim.
The company was sentenced under the Health and Safety at Work act.
Companies Office records show Rob Gartshore of Mount Maunganui and William Gartshore of Tauranga are directors of the company.
Gartshore Group's web site says the company has been building a legacy for over 60 years. The business continues to invest in providing better services, well-managed processes and quality results, it says.
Ellie Harrison of Gartshore's lawyers Wynn Williams said: "These guys could not have tried harder to learn from their mistakes and have spent $500,000 overhauling their safety and administration systems."
Rob Gartshore's affidavit to the court "demonstrates heartfelt remorse for [the] accident and also that the company has thought very carefully about how to ensure the safety of workers in the future.
"I do not say this about all of my clients but they really have gone above and beyond what they need to do to achieve compliance with the legal standard. They have done this with maturity and sincerity," Harrison said.
The business had the utmost respect for the victim and his sister and apologised that he was not safe at work.
"They would like to acknowledge [his] phenomenal strength and determination and his sister's constant support which she has provided in addition to working and caring for another unwell family member. They would also like to acknowledge [his] skill and attention to detail as a builder.
"W Gartshore hopes this matter can bring greater awareness to particular considerations relating to keeping older workers safe at work. This is likely to be an issue of increasing importance with an ageing working population," Harrison said.
Gartshore's affidavit referred to the victim's disabilities and how isolating those were.
The worker had been "a very sociable and engaging person so I often think about how quiet his life is now," Gartshore said.
The accident had been distressing for the firm's other workers as well, he said.
He detailed major changes at the business, particularly on health and safety, and concluded: "I feel very proud of how far Gartshores has come since 2018 and I am hoping for an outcome from this prosecution which will enable the company to continue its good work."