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Testing station to pay $503,000 after fatality

VINZ Hamilton. Photo: Supplied.

A Hamilton vehicle testing station has been ordered to pay half a million dollars in fines and reparations, including almost $280,000 to a bereaved family.

 

Two years ago an employee driving on-site hit and killed a customer who suffered traumatic brain injuries and died in hospital.

 

A WorkSafe investigation found that Vehicle Inspection New Zealand Limited - VINZ - had identified the risk to pedestrians at its site but did not ensure customers and workers were isolated from moving vehicles.

 

The investigation found that while VINZ had some policies in place around the interactions of customers or visitors to the site, they were not actively implementing or enforcing the requirements.

 

In the Hamilton District Court this week, VINZ was fined $225,000 and ordered to pay the customer's family $278,000 for emotional harm and losses.

 

WorkSafe's area manager Danielle Henry said the tragedy reinforced the message that people must be separated from moving vehicles. The investigation identified some further steps that could and subsequently have been implemented by VINZ.

 

“This was a site where there were a large number of vehicles passing through each day, alongside customers. The risks were well known – and there were policies in place, however there was a failure, at least on this occasion, to adhere to them,” says Danielle.

 

“Our investigation into the incident found that VINZ had identified the risk in its hazard register. But simply putting plans on paper will not eliminate the risk to pedestrians caused by vehicles. Good health and safety systems need to be practiced every day – not on occasion or once something has gone wrong.

 

“The business should have ensured customers and workers were isolated from vehicles at all times. This can be done in a number of ways such as designated walkways or barriers to exclude customers from higher risk areas”.

 

Vehicle Inspection New Zealand Limited was sentenced under sections 36(2), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.  S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.

 

WorkSafe has recently released good practice guidelines relating to site traffic management available on its website.

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