WorkSafe New Zealand says employers must learn from health and safety failings occurring under their control.
Last April, a 24 year-old father of one died at a Bay of Plenty quarry after he was thrown from a fully laden dump truck. That "tragic and preventable death" had its sequel in the Tauranga District Court yesterday when the company and its director were fined.
It was revealed in Court that in March this year - 11 months after this death - WorkSafe had to prohibit work at the same quarry after finding similar health and safety failings that led to the worker's death.
"It is almost beyond comprehension that having had a tragic and preventable death under their watch, the quarry operators had not learned the lessons and made sure everyone on that site was safe every hour it was working" WorkSafe's chief investigator Keith Stewart said.
At a sentencing hearing last Friday, the employer, Oropi Quarries Limited (OQL) and its sole director Catherine Renner were accused of a "litany of health and safety failures" by the prosecutor. In a reserved judgment released late yesterday, the Judge ordered emotional harm reparations of $100,000 to be paid to the family (OQL $80,000 and Catherine Renner $20,000). He also fined OQL $54,000 and Catherine Renner $9,600.
WorkSafe outlined to the court 14 steps OQL should have taken to ensure the victim's safety. "There were significant issues with vehicle maintenance; failures to train the worker; a lack of policy on wearing seatbelts; and a lack of supervision," Mr Stewart said.
"After the incident, WorkSafe had the vehicle inspected by independent experts – their reports identified 32 faults with the vehicle ranging from mismatched and over-inflated tyres to a missing door on the cab.
The failures by this company and its director to ensure this young worker was able to go home healthy and safe have a left a mother without her only son, a partner who was looking forward to a marriage that will never happen, and a four year-old without a father," Mr Stewart said.
Two charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act (HSE):
Two charges under the HSE Mining Operations and Quarrying Operations Regulations 2013: