Skip worker who suffered severe brain injury awarded $100k

Thu, Feb 23
Skip bin file image.

A Bay of Plenty waste management worker has been awarded reparations of $100,000 after a raised skip bin fell on his head, leading to a severe brain injury with life-long complications.

The man, now 52, was emptying a skip when it fell on his head and shoulders in March 2021, WorkSafe said today.

He later suffered several strokes in hospital, and is likely to have difficulties with his vision and swallowing food for the rest of his life.

The man's employer, Bin Boys Bay of Plenty, was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court on Tuesday for health and safety failures which led to the incident.

It includes a failure to ensure that the risks when loading, unloading, or tipping a skip bin were identified, assessed, and minimised; a failure to provide information and training for how to rig skip bins and safely empty stuck material; and a failure to ensure that lifting equipment was installed, maintained, and used in line with best practice.

The owners were fined $250,000. They were also ordered to pay the victim reparations of $100,000.

Bin Boys' owners told WorkSafe its safety analysis for tipping bins was undocumented as it had been "mentally done", and staff were to "jiggle" skip bins by moving trucks back and forth to dislodge debris.

"Bin Boys relied on informal, on-the-job training to satisfy itself that the victim, with no prior experience in similar work, was adequately trained and competent to do all parts of his role unsupervised by half-way through his third day on the job," WorkSafe's area investigation manager Paul West said.

"This approach to health and safety is completely deficient, leading to tragic consequences and ultimately a loss of independence for the victim.

"Doing it right is not necessarily about creating paperwork, but about ensuring existing staff have all they need to do the job safely, and getting new workers on the same page. Employers should strive to eliminate workplace risks or put appropriate measures in place to mitigate them wherever possible."


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