Can an employer escape accountability if the company is in liquidation?

The director of a company in liquidation in Auckland has been ordered to pay $100,000 for reparations following the death of a subcontractor. According to WorkSafe NZ, the subcontractor fell from the roof of a house to a concrete patio while spray painting.

WorkSafe’s investigation found inadequate risk assessment at the site of the incident, and that no measures were in place to prevent the victim from falling. The probe found that no scaffolding was present at the house, and the company director did not check if the victim used the harness he was given, or if he was trained or competent to use one.

“Some form of edge protection should have been in place as a basic safeguard. It was easily foreseeable that a fall could occur, resulting in serious injury or death,” said Danielle Henry, WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, in a statement.

“The victim of this fall leaves behind a wife and son, whose lives are forever changed by a simple failure to put safety first.”

Read more: White Island: WorkSafe NZ charges 13 parties following eruption

The company’s director was prosecuted for the incident after his company was put into liquidation 49 days after the fall took place.

He was charged under sections 44, 36(1), 48(1) and 48(2)(b) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. According to the charges, the director failed to comply to his duty of ensuring that his workers were not exposed to risk of death or serious injury.

He was sentenced on Wednesday at the Manukau District Court and was ordered to pay reparations of $100,000 to the victim’s family. However, the judge for the sentencing did not impose a fine on the company director considering his financial circumstances.

According to Henry, a company under liquidation does not remove accountability from the owner.

“Individuals and directors have a range of health and safety responsibilities and liquidating your company does not absolve you of them,” said Henry.

Source: hcamag

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