A cautionary tale – employers are liable for employees’ lack of common sense!
Yes of course we all want to feel safe in our place of work but now the responsibility for a lack of common sense has been placed squarely at the feet of employers.
Recent Health and Safety cases have highlighted the need for additional vigilance by employers even when common sense is not applied in the workplace.
Waimea Sawmills Ltd discovered this, when a technical supervisor and a member of the health and safety committee for 2 years prior to his accident, caused himself serious injury when he tried to lubricate moving machinery even though it was behind a fenced off zone. Although Waimea Sawmills appealed, Worksafe New Zealand fined Waimea $40,000 for failing to take all reasonable practicable steps to ensure the employee’s safety at work,
The Court ruled that Employers must anticipate that even trusted and experienced employees may take shortcuts at work and behave contrary to common sense when working on machines that they would normally know to be unsafe, but where under certain circumstances, caution may be thrown to the wind.
It is the obligation of an employer to assess the risk of a hazard against the employee acting in contrary to common sense.