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$15,000 fine after 16-year-old crushed to death

Company fined $15,000 after 16-year-old worker crushed to death

Rubbish recycling company Street Smart Ltd was sentenced to pay a fine of $15,000 in the Manukau District Court today after a worker was killed last year.

The victim was just 16-years-old and had been working for 2 months when he was fatally trapped in the compactor blade of a rubbish truck.

"Any person dying or being seriously injured at work is a tragedy, but when it's a young person the tragedy is heightened," said John Forrest, OSH Service Manager, Auckland.

"It appears the victim leaned into the rear of the truck to retrieve something, possibly a pair of trousers or shoes.

"The compacting blade on the truck struck him on the back, and crushed him to death.

"Street Smart failed to ensure that the victim, who was an employee of a contractor engaged by the company, was not exposed to hazards.

"There were a number of practicable steps which could have been taken, including ensuring that the rear of the truck had some safeguarding measure installed preventing or restricting access to the trapping point when the machine was operational.

"In addition they could have ensured that an emergency safety trip bar installed at the rear of the truck was functioning."

"Another step could have been clear labelling on the controls of the truck. The controls on the truck and the manual were written in Japanese."

OSH Guidelines for Guarding Principles and General Safety for Machinery state that all power controls should be clearly and appropriately labelled.

"New Zealanders being harmed and killed at work is simply unacceptable," said Mr Forrest.

"Everyone has the right to go to work and be safe. Companies must ensure that workplace hazards are identified and controlled correctly, and that their safety systems are constantly reviewed and updated."

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