2/6/03 Company fined after diver gets the bends

Date: 1/6/2003

Court: employer failed to ensure safety

A diving company has been fined more than $13,000 in the Auckland District Court after one of its divers got the bends while working in the Rangitoto Channel. Judge Barry Morris found Auckland company DiveCo guilty of two charges under employment health and safety legislation and Department of Labour regulations relating to the diving accident in September 2000. On one charge of failing to take all practical steps to ensure a hazard that arose in a place of work did not harm a contractor the company was fined $12,000.

“This is not a case where the defendant company tried and got it wrong in respect of a worker’s health and safety,” Shona Carr, for the department, told the court. “It is a case where the company did not try in the first instance.” Judge Morris found that the scuba diver suffered the bends or decompression illness after conducting multiple dives or “bounce diving”, with fewer than 10 minutes on the surface between dives.

Mr Morgan suffered pain and discomfort for three or four days and was out of work for three weeks. Judge Morris made an order that $870 of the fine be awarded to Mr Morgan.

Outside the court, Lorne Campbell, appearing for DiveCo, said the company would appeal against its conviction and sentence.

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