Benchmark-Construction Limited has been fined $43,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $40,000 to a young worker who has hit by a bucket attachment that came loose from an excavator.
The 16-year-old was doing casual work for the company in January this year when the incident happened. He was working in a trench at a Kaiapoi development when the bucket of an excavator being operated by another employee detached and struck him.
The teenager suffered a compound fracture of his left leg with nerve damage as well as cuts to his right leg and bruising. He required surgery on his left leg and is receiving ongoing medical treatment.
A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found that manual safety pin (which is a back-up safety measure in case the automatic hitch lock device fails) had not been inserted. It was found loose on the floor of the excavator’s cab.
Benchmark-Construction plead guilty to one charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety or an employee while at work, under sections 6 and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act. It was sentenced today in the Christchurch District Court.
WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart, says Benchmark-Construction failed to effectively identify the risk of the excavator bucket coming loose – despite WorkSafe having highlighted the issue in a March 2014 fact sheet (“Using Quick Hitches Safely”).
“If proper systems had been in place the excavator’s operator would have been required to check the bucket and insert the manual safety pin before starting work.
“This young man suffered nasty injuries that might have been avoided altogether. Hopefully this case will serve as a reminder to others in the construction industry to make sure they check excavator buckets before they start work,” says Keith Stewart.