The Alexandra District Court heard that the employee – Roger Steel – climbed the ten-metre pole to carry out some line work on 6 December. As he was working, the pole fell sideways, coming out of the ground. Due to the bank sloping away from the pole, the employee fell around fifteen metres.
“This employee had 40 years experience as a linesman – it was a tragic incident that didn’t need to happen,” says Department of Labour Dunedin Service Manager, Mark Murray.
“The company had earlier replaced six deteriorated wooden poles with concrete poles at the same site in October 2010. They had also identified that the pole the employee was instructed to work on was actually unsafe to climb before the incident.”
“Tragically this information was not formally communicated to the employee – either by tagging the dangerous pole or including the identified safety issues for the pole on the job sheet he was given that day.
“Basic planning steps would have prevented this incident. Good practice would have resulted in the pole being made safe before any further work was carried out. The pole also should have been clearly marked as unsafe.” Mr Murray says.