An investigation into Fletcher Construction has revealed the company failed to ensure the health and safety of a worker following an incident involving the collapse of a temporary retaining wall.
The worker was injured in May 2016, when he was working in a 2m deep hole where temporary concrete blocks were being used as a retaining wall.
Water was being pumped out of the hole following heavy rainfall, however, the concrete blocks shifted and the man became caught under the falling blocks.
The man sustained multiple fractures to his lower right leg and required eight months off work as a result.
Worksafe New Zealand accepted an enforceable undertaking from Fletcher Construction, which was confirmed by the victim, as an alternative to prosecution.
Simon Humphries, Worksafe deputy general manager, investigations and specialist services, said the decision to accept the enforceable undertaking was appropriate given the circumstances.
"This is not an opportunity for Fletcher Construction to escape their corporate responsibility for the health and safety of a worker. It's a legally binding agreement that requires them to complete a number of commitments, which will benefit health and safety in the wider construction industry. WorkSafe has a dedicated team monitoring compliance with the enforceable undertaking and ensuring that Fletcher follow through on their promises."
Michele Kernahan, chief executive of Fletcher Construction, said the incident was deeply regrettable and disappointing that the company let the victim down by not fully recognising the risks on that particular site.
"We deeply regret this incident occurred and that a worker on one of our sites was harmed," she said.
"Everyone deserves to go home safe at the end of the day and it is disappointing that we let this person down by not fully recognising the risks in the works on that site, in that environment."
Kernahan said that the division had committed an immense amount of time and resources to improving its safety record and welcomed the opportunity that the undertaking provided.
"It is important that we collectively learn from this as an organisation and as an industry. Temporary works are a challenging area which require collaboration, consistent understanding and shared learning between designers, contractors and suppliers to create a safe work environment," she said.
"We welcome the opportunity that this undertaking provides for us to improve the safety of temporary works on our sites and hope the changes we make as a result, will benefit practices across the construction industry."
This is the tenth enforceable undertaking accepted by WorkSafe under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
The tool is increasingly being used, in appropriate cases, as a positive alternative to prosecution.
WorkSafe would continue to monitor compliance of this enforceable undertaking.
Under the enforceable undertaking, Fletcher Construction committed to initiatives including:
• Providing amends in the form of payment to the victim, professional development opportunities in addition to ACC top-up.
• Developing a new temporary works procedure for workers, including visual aids and training.
• Arranging for an external consultant to audit the use of the temporary works procedure to verify ongoing effectiveness.
• Assisting in the development of programmes with Site Safe regarding temporary works.
• Presenting to Civil Contractors New Zealand conference focusing on safety in temporary works design.
• Donating to the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management.
• Establishing a health and safety forum with labour hire companies.
• Publishing an article about health and safety and temporary works in an industry publication.
• Developing a health and safety module for Mahurangi College.
• Providing work experience for Mahurangi College students.
• Running a community open day.
• Donating safety equipment to a local school.