McConnell Dowell Constructors Limited

We have accepted Enforceable Undertakings from Plunket Electrical Oamaru Limited and McConnell Dowell Constructors Limited, following an incident at Peaks Pump Station in North Otago in 2016.

On 14 September 2016, three workers were installing a switchboard at the Peaks Pump Station. The switchboard weighed 1400 kg and was 4700mm long, 2000mm high and 500mm deep. Due to the layout of the installation, it was decided that the workers would utilise a trolley jack to lift the switchboard, however in the course of doing this the switchboard tipped forward, striking the victim in the abdomen as it fell. It came to rest on a small steel stand in the corner of the room which prevented it from falling all the way to the ground. This prevented the victim from being crushed by the full weight of the switchboard. As a result, the victim suffered a crush injury to the abdomen area, including laceration of the spleen.

Alleged breach

Sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c), of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Summary of Enforceable Undertaking

McConnell Dowell Constructors Limited will:

  • provide an assistance package to the victim, including $10,000 reparation, $1,500 to put towards a new computer and $1,500 of trade tools to assist the victim with their electrical apprenticeship.
  • develop and provide formal training sessions to all relevant personnel on active sites in New Zealand for health and safety requirements, identifying high risk activities, managing subcontractors engaged in high risk activities and the implementation of a mandatory permit procedure for high risk work.
  • provide safety leadership training for management and supervisory personnel in engineering and operations to reinforce and improve safety culture at site supervision level.
  • arrange for all site supervisors to attend a Supervisor Gold Card two day training course provided by SiteSafe.
  • develop an electricity industry installation practice guide in conjunction with Master Electricians at a cost of $20,000.
  • develop a ConstructSafe certification (health and safety competency assessment programme) for electrical industry in conjunction with Master Electricians and ETCO at a cost of $50,000.
  • publish articles for industry publications about the incident (such as Electrolink Magazine, NZ Engineering News or similar) to increase industry awareness of the need to plan and supervise the safe installation of switchboards and heavy electrical equipment.
  • make a donation to the Otago Rescue Helicopter of $10,000.
  • sponsor St Johns Ambulance to run a first aid course for up to 20 people from the local farming community at a cost of $5,000. This aims to improve first aid capability in the local community who may be working in remote areas.

This Enforceable Undertaking has a total estimated expenditure of at least $170,300 (including WorkSafe’s recoverable costs).

Reasons for accepting the Undertaking

  • The alleged contravention is not a section 47 (reckless conduct) offence which would preclude it from being accepted.
  • The Enforceable Undertaking meets the requirements of our Enforceable Undertakings Operational Policy document dated July 2017; in particular noting:
    • The nature of the contravention and how serious it was
      • On 12 September 2017, WorkSafe charged McConnell Dowell Constructors Limited and Plunket Electrical Oamaru Limited for failing to ensure that risks were adequately identified, that adequate systems were in place to manage risks and that appropriate consultation, co-operation and co-ordination was undertaken between the companies.
      • McConnell Dowell Constructors Limited had been engaged by a company to project manage the construction of four pump stations in the North Otago region. Its role was to project manage the construction and it engaged a number of businesses and contractors to undertake the construction work.
      • Plunket Electrical Oamaru Limited had been engaged by McConnell Dowell Constructors Limited to undertake electrical work and install switchboards to each of the pump stations being constructed.
      • The incident was considered serious as it had the potential for a fatal injury but for the small steel stand in the corner of the room which prevented the switchboard completely falling on the victim. The victim still suffered a crush injury to the abdomen area, including laceration of the spleen, and took six months to recover from the incident.
      • The victim was able to make a full recovery from the injury and eventually returned to work.
    • Information received from any interested party, including any victim(s), in relation to the contravention
      • The victim had been given an opportunity to review and comment on the draft Enforceable Undertaking. They supported the Enforceable Undertaking.
      • The Electrical Union confirmed that they did not oppose the Enforceable Undertaking.
      • Master Electricians, ConstructSafe and the ETCO provided letters in support of the Enforceable Undertaking.
    • Mitigation and remedial action (taken or planned), regarding both the contravention and any person affected by the contravention (including victims)
      • McConnell Dowell Constructors Limited has:
        • apologised to the victim and included a statement of regret in the Enforceable Undertaking that acknowledges the harm caused to the victim.
        • issued a Safety Alert within the business and shared the learnings with workers through their tool box meetings and team briefings. Immediately following the incident any work involving the lifting or moving of switchboards immediately ceased and resumed on the basis that the work was directly supervised by the company’s engineers.
        • carried out a site audit of the premises where the incident took place and engaged site supervisors and engineers for the remainder of the project.
        • improved supervision for the project and directly managed the reinstallation of the Peaks Booster Pump Station switchboard.
        • taken steps to improve the overall supervision of subcontractors and risk management processes on all projects.
        • carried out a review of all other projects involving switchboard installation activities.
        • offered an assistance package to the victim to assist in their completion of their electrical apprenticeship.
    • The person’s past performance and history of compliance with health and safety legislation
      • McConnell Dowell Constructors Limited does not have any previous health and safety convictions.
    • Any other matter which WorkSafe thinks is relevant
      • The enforceable undertaking delivered benefits beyond compliance and would promote higher standards of workplace health and safety.
      • The activities in the Enforceable Undertaking provided a range of benefits to workers and the workplace, appropriate coverage across the industry and value to the community.
      • A number of industry representatives were consulted in the development of the Enforceable Undertaking and many expressed an interest in being involved.
      • The company engaged its workers in the drafting of the Enforceable Undertaking and received input from its internal health and safety team.
      • The company confirmed it had the financial capacity and resources to comply with the terms of the Enforceable Undertaking.
      • The support and involvement of Master Electricians, ConstructSafe and ETCO satisfied WorkSafe that there was an appropriate level of support from the industry.
      • The Enforceable Undertaking accounts for the benefits that accrue to McConnell Dowell Constructors Limited by the prosecution not proceeding.


Date accepted

22 May 2018

Further information

View the full Enforceable Undertaking:

Enforceable Undertaking McConnell Dowell Constructors (PDF 2.8 MB)