3 Aug 2019

Farming business boss asked worker to lie to WorkSafe

4:16 pm on 3 August 2019

The boss of a farming company has been convicted after asking an injured staff member to lie to WorkSafe so the business would not be prosecuted.

Invercargill District Court

Invercargill District Court Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Director of 4 Hippos Farm Limited, Davin Heaps, was sentenced to four months' community detention in the Invercargill District Court.

He pleaded guilty to one charge of wilfully attempting to obstruct, prevent, pervert or defeat the course of justice by directing a worker to lie to WorkSafe NZ.

The company was also convicted on a Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 charge for failing to ensure the wood splitter did not pose a risk of serious injury to the worker.

One of Heaps' workers was seriously injured while using a wood splitter on the job. He received significant crushing injuries and lacerations to his hand.

Heap then asked that worker to lie about the incident during a WorkSafe investigation.

WorkSafe chief operating officer Phil Parkes said pressuring the worker to lie was appalling.

"This worker received significant injuries and Heaps actively tried to escape any responsibility for the incident by lying.

"It was only the brave actions of the worker that brought the truth out."

Despite the court considering a fine of $273,288, no financial penalty was imposed due to Heaps' financial circumstances.

The company, however, was ordered to publish the offence in newspapers nominated by WorkSafe.