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Ashburton company fined after Oamaru worker death

MEDIA RELEASE

Ashburton company fined after worker death in Oamaru

An irrigation company has been fined $20,000 and ordered to pay $83,000 in reparations following the death of an employee after a trench collapsed on him

Roderick (Rod) O’Connor, an employee of KB Irrigation Ltd, died on 11 July 2006 when a large section of a 3 metre high trench collapsed and buried him while he was working on repairs to an irrigation scheme at Horse Gully, near Oamaru.

KB Irrigation Ltd was prosecuted by the Department of Labour under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee, Mr O’Connor, and for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that he was not exposed to the hazard of a trench collapse in his place of work.

The company was sentenced in the Oamaru District Court today. It had previously pleaded guilty to the charge.

Department of Labour Dunedin acting Service Manager Adrian Mair said Mr O’Connor’s death was a tragedy. “Our sympathies are with his family, friends and co-workers.”

Mr Mair said it was the second court sentencing this week where the Department had prosecuted after the death of a worker buried in a collapsed trench.

“Employers need to wake up to the potentially devastating human cost of ignoring responsibilities to ensure workers are not exposed to such hazards,” he said.

"Just expecting staff to be careful is not enough. Employers have a duty to ensure they have effective health and safety systems in place. Employers also need to adequately supervise and monitor employees, ensure employees are adequately trained and follow the relevant codes of practice and industry best practice.”

For information about the other collapsed trench case, see: http://dol.govt.nz/News/Media/2008/drainage-company-fined.asp

ENDS

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