Why wouldn’t you use fall protection? Lindsay Whyte Painters and Decorators found out it’s cheaper on every level

I’m beginning to wonder if people genuinely think they can press a big red button and “turn off gravity”. There so much known about the risks associated with falls from height, and it is so easy to minimise the likelihood of an accident occurring: train staff, provide the right equipment and use fall protection! Yet, articles like this one keep getting published: Oamaru business ordered to pay $70,000 after worker fell from roof


What happened?

  • The worker was washing exterior walls on a two-story flat and preparing them for painting. He was trying to un-snag a hose he was using, misjudged his footing in stepping off the roof.
  • There was nothing in place to prevent him from falling from the roof and he fell 2.8 metres off a roof, through a glass table onto concrete.
  • He suffered serious injuries including complex facial lacerations and tissue loss from his top lip requiring surgical intervention, and a fracture to his right elbow. (one of the most painful breaks you can possibly do).


What the court said?

WorkSafeNZ General Manager of Operations and Specialist Services Brett Murray said, “The best controls are those that don’t require active judgement by a worker. This includes solutions such as edge protection or scaffolding. If a worker slips or missteps, as we saw in this case, there is a physical barrier between themselves and the ground below.”

The company had failed to:

  1. Identify the risk of a fall
  2. Put any fall protection in place
  3. Train and instruct staff in working at height.

Fine $50,000                       Reparation: $20,000


What are your options when it comes to fall protection?

 If you haven’t already get hold of a copy of the following documents from the Worksafe Website.


In short, if you have people who are out on a roof for a prolonged period of time, you either need to manage the risk by:

  • eliminate it by working from the ground
  • isolate it by using scaffolding or edge protection
  • minimise it by using a total restraint system

NB People working on single-storey dwellings need the same level of protection as people working on two-storey dwellings.


Have a safe and productive week and make sure none of your workers indulge in any unplanned superman/woman moves without fall protection.


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