In prosecutorial first, DHB hit with $225k fine after worker's arm crushed in Dunedin

The Southern District Health Board and a fire protection consulting company have each been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for failing to provide an instruction manual to a worker whose arm was crushed while attempting to remove a decommissioned X-ray machine in a Dunedin hospital.


Fire and Mech Contracting Limited was fined $247,500 last week, while the Southern DHB was fined $225,000 for the May 2017 incident, WorkSafe revealed today.

The incident occurred after Fire and Mech Contracting asked a worker assisting with the removal of the X-ray machine to help cut a wire rope to clear it. A spring-loaded system then struck the worker's forearm, causing serious injuries, including a broken radius and ulna, WorkSafe said in a statement.

The agency's investigation found that the DHB had failed to provide a copy of the manufacturer's instruction manual, including steps on its safe removal, to those involved.

It also found that Fire and Mech did not seek out the manufacturer's instructions, and that while its workers did have experience in decommissioning machinery, they did not have experience working with X-ray machines.

WorkSafe's findings signal the first Crown Entity prosecution to be completed following changes to the Crown Organisations (Criminal Liability) Act 2002, which allows public sector agencies such as the Southern DHB to be subjected to the same fines as other businesses under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

"Had the Southern District Health Board provided instructions to those involved in the decommissioning, a competent person may have been able to mitigate any risks around removing this kind of machinery," WorkSafe's Head of Specialist Interventions Simon Humphries said in a statement.

"Fire and Mech should have undertaken a comprehensive risk analysis to ensure work was completed safely. Because the workers were not experienced with this machinery, a worker has ended up with serious injuries."