Fatal accident highlights lack of health and safety controls

The Gisborne District Court recently fined a transport operator $80,000 and ordered him to pay $100,000 in compensation for the death of a contractor who was tragically killed during his first day working for Hawke Equipment Limited.

garbage-17541_1920Mr James Walter Beau Thompson, who headed Hawke’s log operations in Gisborne at the time of the accident, plead guilty under the Health and Safety in Employment Act (now replaced by the Health and Safety at Work Act).

The fatal accident occurred in February 2014 when Dallas Wayne Hickey, the victim, was driving a truck and trailer unit to transport logs from Puketoro Station to Eastland Port. Mr Hickey exited the cab while still in motion and then became trapped under the rear wheel of the rig where he suffered severe injuries leading to his death.

A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation revealed that Mr Thompson failed to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Hickey’s safety, such as providing adequate health and safety training and a comprehensive induction where Mr Thompson was responsible for ensuring employees are familiar with the vehicle and the forestry site.

During sentencing, the District Court Judge stated that Mr Thompson “is not a person who should be in the [log transport] industry.” WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart emphasised how this tragic case clearly illustrates the importance of providing adequate training and induction processes, as these are necessary in contributing to the health and safety of workers.

Source: WorkSafe New Zealand