Fine and reparation of $152,000 ordered over fatal crushing incident
Southland farmer Frederick McCullough has been ordered to pay reparation of $100,000 and has been fined $52,000 over the August 2013 death of a worker on his farm.
The employee died when he was crushed between an excavator and some tree stumps while he was helping to clear scrub at the Orepuki farm run by McCullough. The employee was in a position five metres away from the excavator, which McCullough was driving, as it was dragging a log backwards.
McCullough was sentenced yesterday at the Invercargill District Court under sections 50 and 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee at work.
Keith Stewart, WorkSafe New Zealand’s chief investigator, says scrub clearing with an excavator poses an obvious risk to any worker on foot in the area.
“McCullough should have identified a ‘safe area’ on site and ensured the employee was in it before driving or slewing (turning) the excavator. Safe areas are a simple but important way to protect workers.
“The excavator could also have had rear vision mirrors and a travel alarm that warns people when the machine starts to move.
“This case is a sad reminder of the risks faced by people who work around heavy vehicles and in uncontrolled settings. Those risks have to be managed and minimised,” says Keith Stewart.
NOTE: The judge originally set the fine at $77,000 with reparation of $75,000, but at the request of the defence counsel apportioned $25,000 of the fine to reparations to go to the victim’s wife.