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Falling beam crushed worker – WorkSafe NZ

The death of a 21-year-old in the construction sector shows how easily stopgap measures can endanger workers, WorkSafe New Zealand says.

Aidan Paszczuk was removing steel beams when one fell and killed him at a Newmarket construction site in October 2021.

A WorkSafe investigation found that workers devised an ad-hoc way to get the job done when their original method could no longer be used. Unfortunately, they did not have access to safety-critical information about the security of the 500-kilogram beam. When Mr Paszczuk stood on a stack of five wooden forklift pallets to use an angle grinder, the beam fell on him.

The employer Grouting Services Limited (GSL) should have carried out an effective risk assessment to protect workers, and has now been sentenced for its health and safety failures.

“When there is no obvious safe way to work its best to stop, reassess, and involve experts to develop a new approach – rather than attempting to adapt things on the fly,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Danielle Henry.

“Not stopping for a short amount of time to come up with an alternative safer method cost a family their loved one, and affected productivity on a major construction worksite for days and weeks afterwards. Getting workers home healthy and safe must always be the top priority, especially on fast-moving and dynamic construction sites.”

A separate WorkSafe prosecution against CLL Service and Solutions Limited involved a crane toppling at the same busy Newmarket construction site a year prior to the death of Aidan Paszczuk.

“Sadly, the crane incident was not heeded as the site safety warning that it could have been. The risk of serious harm and death in the construction sector is well known, and WorkSafe is committed to ensuring businesses uphold their responsibilities for worker health and safety,” says Danielle Henry.

Read more from WorkSafe on construction safety

Background:

  • Grouting Services Limited was sentenced at Auckland District Court on 12 December 2023.
  • A fine of $180,000 was imposed, and reparations of $110,000 ordered
  • Grouting Services Limited was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.

 

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