Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Trenching fatality stirs safety call


11 November 2008

Trenching fatality stirs safety call

The Department of Labour is calling on employers in the construction industry to review their safety procedures after its third trenching fatality prosecution in a month.

Callum Molloy Ltd was sentenced yesterday, following a guilty plea in the Thames District Court, to one charge brought under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee.

The Department decided to prosecute following the death of Keith Arnold Hancox on a site near Thames on 12 February 2008. The company was fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $80,000 in reparation to Mr Hancox’s partner.

Mr Hancox died after a trench wall collapsed, burying him facedown in 1m³ of spoil. Although his workmates were able to dig him out, Mr Hancox died of his injuries.

Department of Labour Hamilton service manager Mark Whatnall said Mr Hancox’s death should never have happened

“Our sympathies are with his family, friends and co-workers. We are deeply aware that the prosecution and fine of his employer offer little comfort after the tragedy of his death. But we hope the prosecution will remind companies in the construction sector of the potentially terrible human cost of failing to ensure workers are safῥ.

Mr Whatnall said Callum Molloy Ltd had failed to get geotechnical advice on the stability of the material surrounding the trench walls. It had also failed to cut the trench back to a safe slope or provide a trench protection shield to ensure the trench did not collapse. The company also started work without notifying the Department of Labour. This was a breach of Health and Safety legislation.

He said the Department’s Approved Code of Excavation and Shafts for Foundations sets out safety requirements for all excavation work. Employers needed to be familiar with its contents. This code is available at

The two previous incidents were in Nelson and Oamuru.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


By May 2018: Wider, Earlier Microbead Ban

The sale and manufacture of wash-off products containing plastic microbeads will be banned in New Zealand earlier than previously expected, Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson announced today. More>>


Snail-ier Mail: NZ Post To Ditch FastPost

New Zealand Post customers will see a change to how they can send priority mail from 1 January 2018. The FastPost service will no longer be available from this date. More>>


Property Institute: English Backs Of Debt To Income Plan

Property Institute of New Zealand Chief Executive Ashley Church is applauding today’s decision, by Prime Minister Bill English, to take Debt-to-income ratios off the table as a tool available to the Reserve Bank. More>>


Divesting: NZ Super Fund Shifts Passive Equities To Low-Carbon

The NZ$35 billion NZ Super Fund’s NZ$14 billion global passive equity portfolio, 40% of the overall Fund, is now low-carbon, the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation announced today. More>>


Split Decision - Appeal Planned: EPA Allows Taranaki Bight Seabed Mine

The Decision-making Committee, appointed by the Board of the Environmental Protection Authority to decide a marine consent application by Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd, has granted consent, subject to conditions, for the company to mine iron sands off the South Taranaki Bight. More>>