Inaction - will lead to tragedy

03/05/2015 10:09

Hastings District Council to pay $94,500 for child’s death in park

30 April 2015

Hastings District Council has been fined $29,500 and ordered to pay reparation of $65,000 (on top of $12,356.70 already paid) after a tractor mower, operated by one of their employees at a public park, struck a child and killed him.

Hastings District Council was sentenced in the Hastings District Court under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure no action or inaction by an employee harmed any other person.

On 8 October 2013 the employee was mowing Kirkpatrick Park at 700 Orchard Road where three children, including the four-year-old victim, were playing. At some point the employee noticed the three children getting closer to the mower – he waved at them to get out of the way and tooted the tractor’s horn to warn them.

On the mower’s 8th run across the park, the victim stopped running behind the mower and sat down while the other two children continued to chase the mower. On the 9th run the mower passed the victim sitting on the ground. During the 10th run, the victim was running at a diagonal angle towards the tractor when he was struck and run over by the right-hand side of the mower unit. He suffered fatal injuries.

“Children are particularly at risk when public areas like parks are being mowed,” says Keith Stewart, Chief Inspector at WorkSafe NZ.

“While the Hastings District Council did have an informal system of stopping the mower and not starting it again until the member of the public had moved on, this process should have been formalised and documented in the Safe Operating Procedures for the tractor mower. The guidance should also have been clearly articulated to all staff so that they knew how to use the tractor mowers safely.

“Those simple steps could have made all the difference to the victim and his family.”