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Companies fined for window cleaner fall

13:14 Fri Mar 8 2013

Two companies have been fined almost $30,000 and ordered to pay $40,000 in reparation after an abseiling window cleaner suffered serious injuries in a 15-metre fall.

The 18-year-old woman, who was employed by At Height Limited, was lucky to survive the fall from the Lion House building in Newmarket in February last year, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said.

The company was sentenced alongside Building Wash Services, which had contracted it for the work, in Auckland District Court on Friday.

The court was told that the victim was told to attach her sling and ropes to air-conditioning ducting brackets on the roof of the building - but the brackets were not fixed to the roof.

In the fall, she suffered fractures to her skull, face, collarbone, lower legs and neck, and pulmonary contusions and lacerations to her liver.

She spent nearly a fortnight in hospital.

Sentencing the company on Friday, Judge Emma Aitken said the appropriate starting point for a fine was $100,000.

However, taking into account At Height's limited finances and other discounts, she reduced the fine to $9000, and ordered it to pay $32,000 to the injured worker.

Building Wash Services was fined $20,800 and ordered to pay $8000 in reparation.

Both companies had earlier pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety in Employment Act.