9 April 2014
Waikato company Wealleans Groundspread Limited has been fined $33,750 and ordered to pay reparation of $70,000 over the death of a worker in June 2013.
Tyler Old was operating a specially adapted truck, which spread fertiliser from a hopper via a chain conveyor, on a dairy farm in Okauia, Matamata. Nobody saw the incident, but it appears Mr Old climbed into the hopper and got trapped in the conveyor. He suffered fatal crush injuries.
Wealleans Groundspread pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Old’s safety, and was yesterday sentenced in the Morrinsville District Court.
The company’s health and safety handbook stated that employees should never climb into the hopper when the chain is going, but there were no prominent signs on the truck warning of the dangers of doing so.
WorkSafe’s chief investigator, Keith Stewart, said in addition to putting warning signs on the vehicle Wealleans Groundspread could have taken a number of simple steps to protect its workers.
“The footholds and handholds on the side of the truck were inadequate to allow Mr Old to safely lean over the side wall of the hopper and push any fertiliser that was stuck down on to the chain conveyor.
“The company could also have provided a tool with a reach long enough to reach any residual fertiliser instead of the standard spade that was made available,” said Keith Stewart.