WorkSafe New Zealand has accepted an enforceable undertaking in response to an avoidable death at a Waikato landfill site.
60-year-old truck driver Gratten Layne was standing at the rear of his truck, when he was struck and killed by a loader driven by another worker at the Hampton Downs landfill in March 2020.
WorkSafe considers the following could reduce the risk of harm in similar circumstances:
- having a site-specific traffic management plan that separates vehicles and pedestrians
- providing radar or sensor equipment to alert pedestrians and drivers when they are within danger of each other
- increased engagement with workers to identify and manage risks at dynamic work sites.
As an alternative to prosecution, WorkSafe has accepted an enforceable undertaking put forward by Mr Layne’s employer, EnviroWaste Services Limited (EnviroWaste). This is a legally binding commitment which includes:
- reparations to Gratten Layne’s family
- an artificial intelligence technology initiative in health and safety
- the development and implementation of a methodology to better understand dynamic risk
- the development and implementation of a worker engagement tool for work variability and adaption
- the development and implementation of a methodology for worker critical analysis and thinking skills
- funding for a youth alcohol and drug programme in the Waikato region.
The overall agreement comes at a minimum cost of nearly $1 million to EnviroWaste.
“The investment EnviroWaste is prepared to make exceeds what even the courts may have ordered in penalties. This demonstrates a substantial commitment to health and safety and will see benefits being directed back to workers, the industry, and the community. It underlines what I often say – enforceable undertakings are not a soft option for businesses,” says WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions, Dr Catherine Gardner.
WorkSafe will regularly monitor progress on the conditions which have been agreed.
“We are particularly keen to see the outcome of EnviroWaste’s study into how visual artificial intelligence can aid traffic risk management on worksites, and how the findings can be shared with other organisations,” says Dr Gardner.
Statement from the widow of Gratten Layne:
I was in total disbelief, numb, shaken to the very core when Gratten was killed at work. He was my hubby, my soulmate, and both me and my son’s best friend. His death has left a hole in our life. He was our rock.
Gratten loved being in the water, swimming, fishing, kayaking and our long walks on the beach. Now I walk alone.
He is in our daily thoughts and frequently in our conversation. Tears flow and I have to stop and take a breath when remembering that day.
Gratten’s accident shouldn’t have happened. Things went terribly wrong and the right things weren’t put in place.
I’m pleased WorkSafe ensures workplaces like EnviroWaste are held to account. I agree with accepting an enforceable undertaking and I hope it means deaths will be prevented in future.
Statement from EnviroWaste chief executive, Chris Aughton:
We are devastated our colleague Gratten Layne was harmed at work. His loss has been deeply felt by us all at EnviroWaste.
The enforceable undertaking means something constructive can come out of this tragic event. It represents a major investment and commitment from EnviroWaste to improve worker safety and prevent incidents like this happening again. We believe the application of AI technology holds real potential for organisations to respond to risks and hazards in real-time, and to improve the safety of workers through deeper engagement.
It is important to us and the family that the benefits of the EU are shared across all industries operating in dynamic risk settings, so everyone can go home to their loved ones when they finish their working day. Boosting worker safety is a meaningful way we can honour Gratten’s life and legacy.