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Companies must consult, coordinate and cooperate when working together on site - WorkSafe

When more than one company is working on site there is a legal requirement that they consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

And WorkSafe says meeting this legal requirement could have prevented serious injuries to two workers in 2017.

In a reserved decision released by the Invercargill District Court this week, Phil Stirling Building Limited and Duncan Engineering Limited were both sentenced, after two workers were seriously injured while building a milking shed in Southland.

Two workers from Phil Stirling Building were installing horizontal beams on the shed’s ceiling, but did not bolt them in place securely and as a result they fell on to two workers below. One worker was left with a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident, while the other suffered a fracture to his vertebrae.

A WorkSafe investigation found the companies failed to ensure other workers on site knew to keep clear of the risk area.

Phil Stirling Building had failed to ensure a risk assessment was carried out before work commenced, WorkSafe says. The investigation also found Duncan Engineering, who was hired to install a milking platform in the shed, had not consulted with Phil Stirling Building about the scope of its health and safety duties.

WorkSafe says there were no formal discussions between contractors on site regarding what each party was working on, hazards present or management of risks.

Phil Stirling Building Limited was fined $150,000, which was reduced for financial reasons, and ordered to pay reparation of $6000. Duncan Engineering was fined $191,250 and ordered to pay reparation of $4000.

WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions, Simon Humphries said communication on jobs with multiple contractors was vital.

"Despite working on the same job, there was a lack of coordination between contractors. Each party should have alerted other parties to potential risks or hazards.

"Two men were seriously injured in this needless incident."

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