Home Detention & $60,000.00 fine for Safety Breaches

On 16 February 2015 Arthur Britton, director of Britton Housemovers Ltd (“the Company”) was sentenced to four months home detention and his Company was fined $60,000.00 after a house he was moving brought down a power line. While nobody was injured during the incident, the live power line killed six lambs, five ewes, and two sheep dogs.

The accident occurred on 18 December 2013 when the Company, under Britton’s direction, was moving a house along Herbertville Road in Herbertville. The house crashed into a power line which snapped and fell onto the roof of the house. A Company employee used a stick to move the power line off the house roof and into a ditch. Several sheep fell into the ditch and were electrocuted. Two sheep dogs followed the sheep and were also electrocuted. A shepherd went to retrieve the dead sheep but the farmer pulled him back just in time.

The farmer and the shepherd chased after the house moving convoy as they moved on down the street, leaving the live power line in the ditch. After a verbal dispute the Company returned to the scene to put cones down. The Company did not call the authorities about the power line, the farmer did.

The charges were under the Electricity Act and the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and are a sobering reminder to company directors of their obligations with regard to health and safety.

This article is intended as a point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances and no liability will be accepted for any losses incurred by those relying solely on this article.

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