A Gisborne-based logging transport operator has been fined $80,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $100,000 in relation to the death of a contractor who was fatally run over during his first day on the job.
James Walter Beau Thompson pleaded guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Dallas Wayne Hickey.
On 13 February 2014, Mr Hickey was driving a truck and trailer unit, transporting logs from Puketoro Station to Eastland Port.
While the truck was still moving, Mr Hickey got out of the cab and became caught under the rear wheel of the truck, suffering severe injuries and died.
Mr Hickey was contracted as a driver for logging transport company Hawke Equipment Limited. At the time of the incident, Mr Thompson ran Hawke's Gisborne log operations. There is an obligation for employers and principal to ensure that all persons who enter a forest are either competent or are undergoing supervised training.
A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found that Mr Thompson had failed to undertake proper checks and tests, ensuring that Mr Hickey was inducted, which included undertaking an in-cab assessment of his driving skills, ensuring he was familiar with the vehicle, and orientation into the forestry site. Mr Thompson accepted these failures contributed to Mr Hickey's death.
During the Gisborne District Court sentencing yesterday, the judge commented that Mr Thompson "is not a person who should be in the [log transport] industry."
WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart says this case clearly shows why adequate training and induction processes are vital in helping keep workers safe.
"This was a tragic example of what can happen when training is not provided.
"As an agent of Hawke, Mr Thompson failed to ensure that the victim was trained to do his job safely. Employees and contractors should be fully equipped to manage any work-related risk so they can go home to their families at the end of each working day, let alone on the first day of work," he says.