Worker’s death results in hefty fine
Concrete manufacturing company, Busck Prestressed Concrete Limited, has been fined $70,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $60,000 after the death of worker who was run over by a 6.5 tonne telehandler.
Anthony Wells was run over by the telehandler (which was configured as a forklift) in the front yard of the company’s Christchurch factory in the early hours of February 25 2013. He died from his injuries within a few minutes.
After the incident the telehandler was inspected and multiple safety issues were identified including:
- The headlights, front indicators, brake lights, front hazard lights, horn, screen washers and front wipers were not working
- The right wing mirror was missing
- The vehicle had four different brands of tyres with four different pressures, all of which were below the manufacturer’s specification
- The overload buzzer was not working
At the time of the accident the machine was being driven by a trainee with no formal qualifications. Despite the fact that the headlights were not working he had not turned on the field lights. That meant the only light coming from the vehicle was from the flashing orange beacon on the roof. In addition, of the five lights in the yard only one was working and that was facing towards the building rather than the yard.
Busck Prestressed Concrete was convicted and was sentenced today in the District Court at Christchurch under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Wells’ safety at work.
WorkSafe New Zealand’s Chief Investigator Keith Stewart says the telehandler was simply not in a fit state to be used.
“The catalogue of safety issues identified with the telehandler is completely unacceptable. This is a 6.5 tonne vehicle used to move heavy concrete railway sleepers around – it should have been properly maintained to ensure it was safe to use.
“Busck Prestressed Concrete also failed in its duty to maintain the lighting to ensure it was safe to work in dark conditions. This accident happened at 5:30 in the morning - if the lights weren’t adequate it should not have had its workers out in the yard.
“The telehandler driver should also have been given proper training and supervision.
“Sadly, given the state of the telehandler and the poor lighting in the factory yard, Mr Wells’ death was a tragedy waiting to happen. This case serves as a reminder of the terrible consequences that can result from failing to ensure plant and equipment are maintained in safe working order,” says Keith Stewart.