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Company sentenced following forestry fatality

The worker was found unresponsive under a fallen tree. File photo.

The sentencing of a company following a forestry workers death is a prompting a warning from Worksafe NZ.

Sullivan Contractors 2005 Limited was sentenced at the Whangarei District Court on Tuesday.

The company was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and reparation of $365,225 to the victim’s family.

Sullivan Contractors 2005 Limited was engaged to harvest a wood block by Asian Natural Resources Limited, says a statement from Worksafe NZ.

On May 15, 2017, workers were felling trees on a wood block.

A worker who had been manually felling trees using a chain saw was found unresponsive under a fallen tree, having sustained fatal crushing injuries.

There were no witnesses to the event, however, an investigation found it was likely that a tree the worker had felled had brushed past a dead tree, causing the dead tree to uproot and fall, pinning and fatally injuring the worker.

WorkSafe’s area manager Danielle Henry says Sullivan Contractors failed to assess the block effectively for risks before beginning work.

“The number of dead trees in the block should have been properly considered for the risk they posed and proper ways of working around them should have been managed.

“WorkSafe guidance recommends that dead trees be machine-felled where possible before manual felling takes place.

“Sullivan Contractors should have completed a full hazard and risk assessment of the block before work took place. This would have helped them identify appropriate controls that needed to be implemented to ensure worker’s health and safety.”

Sullivan Contractors 2005 Limited was sentenced on Tuesday.

Asian Natural Resources Limited was also sentenced today and fined $7000.

Although the court found the victim’s death was not caused by Asian Natural Resources failure, they were sentenced under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 for failing to consult and coordinate with Sullivan Contractors.

Details of the sentencing below:

Sullivan Contractors Limited

 

  • A fine of $10,000 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $110,000 for emotional harm was ordered, as well as consequential loss reparation of $255,225.
  • Sullivan Contractors 2005 Limited was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a) and 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of workers, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, namely forestry work, and that failure exposed and individual, to a risk of death or serious injury, arising from exposure to the hazards associated with forestry work.
  • S 48(2)(C) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.

 

Asian Natural Resources Limited

 

  • A fine of $7000 was imposed.
  • Asian Natural Resources was sentenced under sections 34(1) and 2(b) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • Being a PCBU having a duty in relation to its workers failed to, so far as was reasonably practicable, consult, cooperate with, and coordinate activities with all other PCBUs who had a duty in relation to the same matter, namely Sullivan Contractors Limited.
  • A maximum fine not exceeding $100,000.

 

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