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Talley's ordered to pay $94,000 after death of crewman

Talley's ordered to pay $94,000 after death of crewman
9 June 2016

Nelson-based fishing company Talley’s Group Ltd has been fined $73,520 and ordered to pay $21,000 in reparations to the family of a crewman decapitated when a broken rope snapped back while hauling in a net full of tuna.

Leighton Muir, 24, died in the accident, which happened aboard the Capt. M.J. Souza on 22 July 2014, when the vessel was fishing in the Kiribati Exclusive Economic Zone.

Talley’s pleaded guilty to a charge laid by Maritime NZ under sections 6 and 50 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work. The company was sentenced today (9 June, 2016) in Nelson District Court.

The court was told that a 50mm (2 inch) safety rope connected to the purse seine net had previously snapped three weeks before Mr Muir died but had not been replaced, despite a replacement rope being available onboard. Instead, a knot had been tied in the rope and it continued to be used. The cause of the breakage was not investigated by the company.

Mr Muir died when the rope broke again, after it was put under increased strain by the failure of a strop on the net. The failure of the strop is believed to have been the result of a poor splice.

At the time of the incident, Mr Muir was working inside the “snapback zone”, an area of high-risk in the event of a rope breaking. The danger of standing in the snapback zone was highlighted in the vessel’s hazards register.

“This horrific incident shows the dangers involved in deep sea fishing, but also highlights what should be done to manage the risks inherent in the industry,” Maritime NZ General Manager, Maritime Compliance, Harry Hawthorn said.

“In this case, the rope had already broken once, but the reasons for that had not been considered. The rope had been repaired, not replaced, and it broke again. The dangers of the snapback zone had been identified but crew were still required to work in that area.

“This is a tragic case which will live with the family of Leighton Muir forever.”

In 2015 Talley’s was found guilty of the same charge after crewman Cain Adams died after falling 6.9m through an open hatch on the Capt. M.J. Souza, when the vessel was in port in Nelson.

The company was fined $48,000 and ordered to pay $35,000 in reparations.


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