Dangerous scaffolding under the spotlight

Press Release – WorkSafe NZ

An Auckland scaffolding company with multiple previous breaches of safety law has been fined $180,000 for further failures to provide its workers with a safe working environment.

Dong Xing Group Ltd was sentenced in the North Shore District Court today for failing to install a safe scaffold, leaving workers exposed to risks including falls, electric shocks and scaffold collapse.

An Auckland City Council building inspector notified WorkSafe of their concerns after visiting the site and a WorkSafe investigation found that the site lacked adequate systems for ensuring the health and safety of workers using the scaffolding.

This included unmanaged risk of electric shock from a live 230 volt powerline that was at times touching the scaffold, the risk of fall from a height of four metres and the risk of scaffold collapsing as a result of excessive corrosion.

While no one had been injured, the risks posed by the company’s conduct were clear breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and departed from well documented industry standards and guidelines.

Head of WorkSafe’s General Inspectorate Jo Pugh said the company’s disregard for the safety of workers using scaffolding was alarming.

“This was a seriously dodgy set up and it is not the way to do scaffolding. If scaffolding is not maintained and not set up properly, then your workers are walking on a tightrope of risk.”

Dong Xing had previously been issued with one infringement notice, eight prohibition notices, and nine improvement notices for health and safety matters on building sites between December 2011 and 12 August 2016.

“This is a company that had been warned, repeatedly, and continued to flout the law. It is a reminder to everyone providing scaffolding to ensure their systems are up to scratch and their equipment maintained and fit for purpose.”

Notes:

– A fine of $180,000 was imposed.
– Costs of $2333.40 were ordered.
– Training orders were made requiring the defendant to arrange for five workers to undertake a low-level scaffolding course covering NZQA Unit Standards 9184, 13016 and 13053.
– Dong Xing Group Ltd was charged under sections 43(2)(b), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
o Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable that the way in which plant or structure, was installed, constructed, or commissioned, ensured that the plant or structure was without risks to the health and safety of persons at a workplace.
– The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

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