Appeal to ACC Maori entity after man lost both arms in ‘horrible’ work accident, leaving him badly burned

Jahden Nelson, a double amputee, is grateful for Armstrong’s help after a horrific workplace accident in April.

The 28-year-old scaffolder was electrocuted after the metal pole he was holding came into contact with high voltage power lines while he was dismantling a scaffolding structure.

“I wouldn’t have gotten anything without the lawyer I have. I couldn’t thank her enough for getting what I deserved,” Nelson said.

The father-of-three was working for Supercity Scaffolding when the accident happened and lost his livelihood when he lost his limbs.

Supercity Scaffolding general manager Claire Attard declines to comment while Worksafe investigates.

Nelson was paid $27 an hour for doing potentially dangerous work – just over minimum wage.

He also had to provide his own personal protective equipment on his salary.

Syd Keepa is First Union’s Maori vice-president and said self-employed kaimahi are less protected from unsafe working conditions.

“All they know is that I sign this and get a job. That’s all they know, they don’t know anything else.

“Going back to my time, they gave us everything – steel-toed boots, high-vis jackets, all that stuff. Because it was part of the deal we had.

“Now you do your own tax, do your own security, do everything else and you’re just an individual,” Keepa added.

“It’s a message for everyone: no matter the industry, if you’re heading into work, think twice and make a conscious decision about whether you’re an entrepreneur or a worker,” Hazel Armstrong said.

Produced with the support of Te Māngai Pāho and the Public Interest Journalism Fund.

Martin E. Berry