Auckland construction company fined $141k over incident

Published 26 September 2023 | 3 min read

What led to a $141,000 fine for an Auckland construction company?

In the heart of Auckland, a workplace incident unfolded two years ago that serves as a stark reminder of the crucial need to prioritise safety in the construction industry. Mosese Foketi, a labour-hire worker, suffered a harrowing ordeal while demolishing a wall at AUT Tower on Wakefield Street in Central Auckland. The incident, which occurred in September 2021, left him trapped under a massive slab of clay blocks and mortar, shattering his back, shoulder, and foot. The pain and suffering he endured were unimaginable, and his life was irrevocably altered.

What makes this story even more distressing is the fact that after his hospitalization and the traumatic incident, Foketi was subjected to pressure from one of his employers to deceive WorkSafe authorities. This attempt to suppress the truth added insult to injury, compounding the already severe trauma experienced by Mr. Foketi.

The incident led to an investigation by WorkSafe, New Zealand's primary workplace health and safety regulator. What they uncovered was a disheartening pattern of negligence. Roles and responsibilities on the work site were not clearly defined or communicated to employees, leading to confusion and, ultimately, catastrophe. Furthermore, risk management and supervision fell woefully short of the standards required to protect workers from harm.

What were the findings of WorkSafe's investigation?

In September 2022, Mac Group Limited, the company overseeing the demolition, and JNP Construction Limited, the labour-hire company, were charged by WorkSafe. Fast forward to September 25, 2023, and both companies faced the consequences of their actions in the Auckland District Court.

  • Mac Group Limited was slapped with a hefty fine of $105,000 and ordered to pay reparations amounting to $35,900.
  • JNP Construction Limited, too, had to dig deep into their pockets, receiving a $6,000 fine and being required to pay $18,400 in reparations.

The fines serve as a poignant reminder that the health and safety of workers cannot be taken lightly.

What can we learn from the case?

  • Health and safety is not a cost, it's an investment. The cost of a workplace accident or injury can be far greater than the cost of implementing effective health and safety measures. This includes both the direct costs, such as medical treatment and lost productivity, and the indirect costs, such as damage to reputation and morale.
  • Everyone has a role to play in health and safety. From the CEO to the newest employee, everyone has a responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe. This means being aware of hazards, reporting them to the appropriate person, and following safe work practices.
  • It's important to have a culture of openness and honesty. Employees should feel comfortable speaking up about safety concerns, without fear of reprisal. Managers and decision-makers should be willing to listen to feedback and take action to address any issues.
  • WorkSafe is there to help. If you have any questions or concerns about health and safety, don't hesitate to contact WorkSafe. They can provide advice and support to help you create a safer workplace.
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