Supermarket operator to pay $77,300 after worker injured

September 26, 2015

18 September 2015

The company operating a Dunedin Countdown supermarket where a security gate collapsed on an employee has been fined $44,300 and ordered to pay reparations of $33,000.

As a result of the incident, the employee suffered compression fractures of several vertebrae, leaving him in a brace for 12 weeks, as well as spasms and fractures to the left thumb.

General Distributors Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Progressive Enterprises Limited, was sentenced yesterday in the Dunedin District Court on one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee.

The employee was closing the security gate at the supermarket, located at 560 Anderson Bay Road, on 29 November 2014 when the top section of the gate came loose from its runner, and fell towards the employee, pinning him to the ground.

Following the gates installation in mid-2013, staff identified bolts securing the gate stopper coming loose. The employees attempted to fix the issue on at least three occasions. While a manager was informed that the employees were attempting to repair the gates stopper, a work order was not formally raised and a maintenance company General Distributors used for repairs was not engaged to fix the gate.

WorkSafe Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart, says the incident is a reminder that working with a structure of that size and weight poses a clear risk to people, especially if the structural integrity is compromised.

General Distributors Limited should have ensured its repairs and maintenance process was strictly adhered to, and that all repairs were carried out by a qualified party, Keith Stewart says.