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WorkSafe prosecute Kone over death

Published 10 Nov 2015

Following a contractor's death last year Kone Elevators have been fined $50,000 and reparation payments of $91,800.

Multiple failures of process, inspections and care had seen safety gear fail when a cable broke allowing a lift to plummet 16 metres causing the death of the engineering contractor working on the de-commissioning of the elevator in the Speights Brewery.

Mr Ashenhurst was de-commissioning a small passenger lift when it plunged to the ground. To allow the work to be undertaken a ‘Tirak hoist’ had been installed - and its steel wire suspension cable failed.

A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found that the mounting of the hoist to the lift car had inadvertently disabled the lift’s safety gear, which should have kicked in when the lift fell at speed.

WorkSafe also found Kone to have failed in requiring contractors to comply with its own standard pre-work safety inspections. Kone had not supplied any installation documentation or checklist with the hoist and the operation of its safety gear had not been checked.

Kone pleaded guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act and was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court. The Act requires that a principal must take all practicable steps to ensure that no contractor is harmed while doing work that they were engaged to do.

It remains unclear exactly what caused the steel cable to break, but had the safe measures been in place the lift would not have fallen. If proper safety checks had been done following the installation of the hoist they would have identified that the mounting of the hoist had disabled the lift’s safety gear.

Keith Stewart chief inspector of WorkSafe NZ is quoted; "Kone should have ensured that its contractors had a proper safety system, which included all necessary safety checks of equipment. That would have included a check on the lift’s own safety gear – particularly after the hoist was installed. If you’re working in a dangerous environment safety checks are not optional. They’re there to save lives and in this case the lack of proper safety checks had tragic consequences,”

WorkSafe NZ are very thorough in policing and investigating workplace health & safety. All businesses need to have management systems in place such as the online Health & Safety from Employers Assistance Ltd.


WorkSafe NZ / MBIE