31 Aug 2015

Otago pleads guilty to health and safety prosecution

8:12 pm on 31 August 2015

Otago University has pleaded guilty to a private health and safety prosecution and paid $60,000 to a woman visitor who slipped on wet tiles.

Victoria and Otago (above) universities are in the process of leaving the Union of Students Associations.

Otago University (file photograph). Photo: 123RF

Katherine Casey broke her pelvis and back when she slipped on the tiles in the University's Commerce Building in 2013.

There had been many previous injuries on the tiles after rain, since the building opened in 1991.

Otago University accepted it had not done enough to solve the problem.

The case had been heading to trial, but today after court discussions, the university agreed to plead guilty and pay the reparations to Ms Casey.

The university was immediately sentenced, and told the court it was embarking on a $15 million revamp of the building.

Ms Casey took the prosecution because the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment would not.

The case follows two private health and safety prosecutions won earlier this month by the Council for Trade Unions for two forestry deaths.

Otago University's chief operating officer John Patrick said he was not yet able to comment on case's resolution.

In a written statement issued before the university pleaded guilty, Mr Patrick said the university had tried a number of projects to make the Commerce Building safe.