A home improvement store in New Zealand was convicted and fined $98,156.25 and ordered to pay $24,000 reparation following an incident where more than 200kg. of plasterboard fell on a worker in Takanini.
The incident, which occurred in May 2016 left the worker with a skull fracture and head injuries requiring surgery and four days hospitalization. The company failed to notify WorkSafe of the incident at the time and tried to downplay the severity when it finally notified WorkSafe.
The incident also endangered the life of a 14-year-old unpaid work experience who was helping the victim with moving the plasterboard.
“Young workers are not experienced, and employers can’t expect them to have the knowledge or confidence to speak out if they are feeling unsafe. It is reasonable to increase your standard of care when you have more vulnerable workers on site,” WorkSafe commented.
“Health and safety for young workers, those aged 15 years and under, is not about excluding young people from an industry; it’s about identifying risk, assessing how likely that risk is to occur and managing it effectively.”
A clear guidance around suitable and unsuitable work areas, work, and tasks for young workers is available on WorkSafe New Zealand’s website.