Employer fined $85k for failing to keep worker safe while trimming tree branches next to powerline

A worker sustained serious injuries while he was trimming tree branches next to a powerline in 2016 and yesterday his employer was fined $85,000 for failing to keep him safe.

In a statement today WorkSafe Bradford John Dibble was sentenced at the Waitakere District Court yesterday and fined $65,000, as well as $20,000 in reparation to the worker. He was also sentenced to 60 hours of community work.

In October 2016 the worker was trimming the branches with an electric saw when a branch fell into a powerline. The worker got an electric shock as a result and fell from the ladder he was standing on.

He sustained a broken shoulder, back injuries and a concussion.

WorkSafe investigated the incident and found that Dibble had given little consideration to the risks involved with working in a close proximity to the powerlines.

The investigation also found that Dibble had not consulted documentation about working at height, tree trimming or working near electrical lines and there was no hazard plan in place, according to a statement.

It also said equipment provided to the worker including the metal ladder and saws used for trimming were unsafe to use near electrical lines.

WorkSafe chief inspector investigations Steve Kelly said the potential for accidents and serious injuries in tree maintenance work around power lines is very high.

"An arborist should have been contacted, but instead the employer cut corners and hired someone who wasn’t qualified for the job.

"Dibble was undertaking, controlling and supervising dangerous work he had no expertise in and as a result he put himself and the worker in serious danger," Mr Kelly said.

Chainsaw (file picture). Source: