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2006 off to tragic start

18 January 2006

2006 off to tragic start

A 15-year student has become the 9th person to be killed at work so far this year.

The student had a holiday job at Whitford Landfill in east Auckland, and was believed to be collecting windblown refuse when the tractor he was driving overturned yesterday. The boy was found by other landfill workers pinned under a rear wheel.

The Department of Labour has launched an investigation into the accident. The tractor had seatbelts and rollover protection fitted, but initial indications show the boy was not wearing a seatbelt.

People over the age of 15 are legally able to drive tractors in a work environment, so long as they are properly trained and supervised.

Chief advisor for health and safety Mike Cosman said 2006 couldn’t have got off to a worse start.

“It’s a real tragedy that we are dealing with so many fatal accidents in such a short space of time.”

Mr Cosman said while the nature of the accidents were all quite different, seven of the deaths were caused by crushing injuries. “A lack of concentration or disregard for basic safety precautions seem to be common factors in these accidents.”

Holiday periods could be trying times for employers, workers and the self-employed, he said. Students and young people being employed for short-term positions during the holidays were also vulnerable because they might not have the physical or emotional maturity, or the level of skills or experience required to carry out the job safely, and therefore supervision may have to be higher than usual.

Workplaces might be operating on a skeleton staff, have minimal supervision, or have only essential maintenance work going on, he added.

“People may also be tired, rushing to finish work, making use of the long daylight hours or simply not have adjusted their minds from ‘holiday mode’ to the level of concentration required for a hazardous work environment.”
Fatal accidents reported to the Department of Labour in 2006 include:

17 January – Student landfill labourer crushed under overturned tractor in Auckland

10 January – Self-employed mowing contractor crushed under overturned mower near Lyttelton

10 January – Road worker crushed under overturned road roller in Ongarue, Waikato

10 January – Nineteen-year old farm trainee crushed while loading bulls onto a truck in Fairlie

10 January – A roofer fell from a height of 10 metres while working on a Whangarei building site

9 January – Tree feller struck in the head by a falling tree in Northland

7 January – Napier transportation firm manager crushed in a container-lifting device

6 January – Factory maintenance worker crushed between an elevating work platform and an overhead pipe in Auckland

6 January – Farmer crushed under a bulldozer in Culverden

ENDS

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