Two companies have been ordered to pay $70,000 after a worker fell 3.2m into a well cellar at a mothballed oil and gas facility in Taranaki.

The man fell after the grating covering the well cellar gave way beneath him. He suffered a 7cm cut to his shin and a compression fracture.

Despite his injuries, he managed to climb an escape ladder -- which had several missing rungs and was coming away from the top of the cellar wall.

An internal investigation found clips used to secure the grating were missing.


NZEC Wiahapa, which runs the site in partnership with another company, was sentenced in Hawera District Court today. It was fined $30,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $10,000.

The company that contracted the man, Vause Wireline Ltd, was also sentenced and fined $30,000.

L&M Energy Ltd, which runs the site in partnership with NZEC Wiahapa, was not charged over the incident.

WorkSafe New Zealand chief inspector Keith Stewart said the incident would not have happened had the risk posed by the cellar been identified earlier.

The cellar has now been filled in.

"Both companies had a duty to identify and manage risks at the site before workers were put in harm's way. A proper assessment would have found that the clips were missing," Mr Stewart.

He said that a second way of securing the grating should also have been in place, as well as a safe escape route in case of falls.

"This incident could have been avoided with a bit more care and attention to risk identification. Once a hazard is identified it is often relatively simple to manage."