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Death Puts Apprentice Safety In Focus Again

WorkSafe New Zealand says urgent action is needed by the trades to take better care of apprentices, after the second court sentencing this year for a trainee killed on the job.

Josh Masters was fixing the hydraulics on a log loader when the vehicle’s boom fell and crushed him at Balmoral Forest in North Canterbury in January 2022. Mr Masters had nearly completed his diesel mechanic apprenticeship with Button Logging Limited – which has now been sentenced for health and safety failures.

The 23-year-old was told to position the loader’s forks vertically to gain access for the repairs, but the boom fell when the forks collapsed.

A WorkSafe investigation found the company didn’t have an effective procedure for the repairs, and when Mr Masters asked for help on how to proceed, he was given inadequate instruction and supervision.

"It was Button Logging’s responsibility to set down its expectations for working under a raised boom, and they had to ensure all workers, including apprentices, had knowledge of and were properly trained to meet those expectations,” says WorkSafe’s acting national investigation manager, Casey Broad.

”This tragic case is about the failure to manage a critical risk – it was utterly preventable and avoidable. As a result of that, a family is now deprived of a son, grandson, brother, and partner.”

Businesses must manage their risks, and WorkSafe’s role is to influence businesses to meet their responsibilities and keep people healthy and safe.

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“Although Mr Masters was nearing the end of his apprenticeship, he didn’t have decades of experience to his name and deserved better when he sought direction,” says Mr Broad.

The sentencing of Button Logging follows another in late January, over the death of 19-year-old apprentice builder Ethan Perham-Turner in Bay of Plenty.

"Apprentices are the future generation, and companies that take on apprentices need to recognise they have a responsibility to look after them as they do with their own employees and put health and safety first,” says Mr Broad.

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