A construction company has been ordered to pay more than $60,000 in fines and reparations after a worker fell five and half metres suffering a broken pelvis and facial injuries.

The man was working at Silver Fern Farms' Te Aroha freezing works in January last year when he fell through a hole on the first floor in which a service lift was to be installed.

The hole was covered, but the cover was not fixed in place.

The man was working for a subcontractor of Wellington-based Ebert Construction Limited.


Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, Ebert Construction was responsible for ensuring his safety while at work, but did not alert the workforce to the hazard or isolate it by securely fixing the cover or by providing protection around it.

A spokesman for the ministry responsible for workplace health and safety, Murray Thompson, said the accident was completely avoidable.

"It is such a simple and obvious thing to do to warn workers or put adequate protection around the edge of holes like this - failure to do so in this case has significantly and unnecessarily injured a worker.

"The construction sector is one of New Zealand's most dangerous and the ministry has a nationwide programme in place to educate employers and employees on the dangers of falls from heights. Work at height must be actively managed so that people are not harmed or killed as a result. Doing nothing is not an option."

Ebert was fined $33,750 and ordered to pay $29,000 in reparations to the work when it appeared before Auckland District Court yesterday.