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Taranaki employer fined for worker's death
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Taranaki employer fined for worker's death

3 June 2016

The widow of a forestry dump truck driver killed at work will receive $97,655.45 in emotional harm reparations from his employer.

The victim was killed when an 800kg log fell from an overloaded articulated dump truck as he was taking off the strops holding the load in place. The incident occurred in the Te Wera forest 40km east of Stratford on 26 March 2015.

His employer, G J Sole Ltd had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to ensure the safety of the victim by failing to ensure he was not exposed to hazards arising from logging cartage work. Today at the New Plymouth District Court G J Sole Ltd was fined $39,375 in addition to the reparations.

The victim's wife and daughter both described the heavy emotional toll his death has had on their lives in their victim impact statements.

A WorkSafe investigation found that there were at least five practicable steps the company could have taken to protect the victim. The company should have implemented an alternative method of carting the logs, ensured the logs remained below of the level of the sides of bin of the dump truck, extended the sides of the bin with certified extension, put in place a written safe operative procedure and to have identified the risk of logs falling from the side of the dump truck in the company hazard register.

"These are not onerous requirements, particularly when they're contrasted with the loss of a worker's life and the impact of his death on his family and co-workers," Keith Stewart, WorkSafe's Chief Inspector said.

"It is a hard lesson for the company to learn, and the family to suffer, but this tragic death has resulted in a series of operational changes at G J Sole Ltd which may have saved the victim's life if they had been in place in March 2015," Mr Stewart said.

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