Liquidation No escape from health and safety liability
WorkSafe New Zealand has held an Auckland businessman responsible for failures that led to the death of a subcontractor, who fell from the roof of a house while spray painting.
Hon Sang Cheuk was the sole director of DMJ Painters Limited, which hired the painter for the job at Bucklands Beach in June 2020. No scaffolding was in place at the house, nor did Mr Cheuk check whether the worker was using the harness given to him. work, or has been trained and competent to use one.
DMJ Painters Limited went into liquidation 49 days after the fall. Mr Cheuk himself was therefore prosecuted for his failings as a company director under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2015. He has now been sentenced in Manukau District Court.
“Individuals and directors have a range of health and safety responsibilities and winding up your business doesn’t absolve you of that,” says Danielle Henry, WorkSafe’s Investigations Manager.
A WorkSafe investigation revealed an inadequate risk assessment at the site, where no measures were in place to prevent the victim from falling from the roof onto a concrete patio.
“Some form of edge protection should have been in place as basic protection. It was easily foreseeable that a fall could occur, resulting in serious injury or death.
“The victim of this fall leaves behind a wife and son, whose lives are forever changed by a simple failure to put safety first,” says Danielle Henry.
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- Hon Sang Cheuk was sentenced by Manukau District Court on July 27, 2022.
- Judge Forrest ordered reparations of $100,000 to be paid to the victim’s family.
- Judge Forrest did not impose a fine because of Mr. Cheuk’s financial situation.
- Hon Sang Cheuk was charged under sections 44, 36(1), 48(1) and 48(2)(b) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2015.
- As an officer of a PCBU, namely DMJ Painters Limited (in liquidation), having a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that DMJ Painters Limited has complied with its obligation to insure, to the extent practicable, the health and safety of workers whose activities in the performance of the work were influenced or directed by the PCBU, while the workers were performing the work, breached this duty and this breach exposed others risk of death or serious injury.
- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $300,000.
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