Testing station must pay $500,000 after customer fatally injured

"The risks were well known."
"The risks were well known." Photo credit: File.

A Hamilton vehicle testing station has been ordered to pay half a million dollars in fines and reparations, including almost $280,000 to a bereaved family.

Two years ago an employee driving on-site hit and killed a customer who suffered traumatic brain injuries and died in hospital.

A WorkSafe investigation found that Vehicle Inspection New Zealand Limited (VINZ) had identified the risk to pedestrians at its site but did not ensure customers and workers were isolated from moving vehicles.

In the Hamilton District Court yesterday, VINZ was fined $225,000 and ordered to pay the customer's family $278,000 for emotional harm and losses.

WorkSafe's area manager Danielle Henry said the tragedy reinforced the message that people must be separated from moving vehicles. The investigation identified some further steps that could and subsequently have been implemented by VINZ.

"This was a site where there were a large number of vehicles passing through each day, alongside customers. The risks were well known - and there were policies in place, however, there was a failure, at least on this occasion, to adhere to them."

Henry said the investigation established that VINZ knew there was a risk which had been entered into its hazard register.

"But simply putting plans on paper will not eliminate the risk to pedestrians caused by vehicles. Good health and safety systems need to be practised every day - not on occasion or once something has gone wrong.

"The business should have ensured customers and workers were isolated from vehicles at all times. This can be done in a number of ways such as designated walkways or barriers to exclude customers from higher risk areas."

WorkSafe said it has new guidelines relating to site traffic management which are available on its website.