Man ordered to pay $100k reparation after worker dies in fall

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Hon Sang Cheuk was sentenced in the Manukau District Court in relation to the death of a worker in Bucklands Beach in 2020. Photo Sky View Photography

An Auckland businessman has been found liable for failures that led to the death of a subcontractor, who fell from the roof of a house in Bucklands Beach while spray painting.

WorkSafe New Zealand said Hon Sang Cheuk was the sole director of DMJ Painters, which hired the painter for the job in June 2020. No scaffolding was in place at the house, nor did Cheuk check if the worker used the harness he was given for the job or was trained and competent to use one.

Cheuk was sentenced in the Manukau District Court on July 27 where Judge Jane Forrest ordered reparations of $100,000 be paid to the victim’s family.

DMJ Painters was put into liquidation 49 days after the fall occurred, so Cheuk himself was prosecuted for his failings as a company director under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

“Individuals and directors have a range of health and safety responsibilities and liquidating your company does not absolve you of them,” WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Danielle Henry said in a media statement.

A WorkSafe investigation found inadequate risk assessment at the site, where no measures were in place to prevent the victim falling from the roof onto a concrete patio.

“Some form of edge protection should have been in place as a basic safeguard. It was easily foreseeable that a fall could occur resulting in serious injury or death,” Henry said.

“The victim of this fall leaves behind a wife and son whose lives are forever changed by a simple failure to put safety first.”

Judge Forrest did not impose a fine due to Cheuk’s financial circumstances. The maximum penalty is a fine of up to $300,000.