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A New Zealand company director has been sentenced to home detention after sheep and dogs were electrocuted and people were put at risk from live electrical wires.

Britton Housemovers Limited was moving a house along Herbertville Road in Herbertville when it crashed into powerlines.

The powerlines fell onto the roof of the house and then an employee of Britton Housemovers Limited used a stick to move them into a ditch on the side of the road, according to a WorkSafe New Zealand media release.

Several sheep walked into the ditch, followed by two sheepdogs, and all were electrocuted. “The shepherd reached out to grab the dead sheep but was pulled back at the last moment by the farmer, narrowly avoiding electrocution,” WorkSafe said.

The house movers continued on their way but were chased down by the farmer and the shepherd. “Following a verbal dispute, a Britton Housemovers employee returned to the scene to put cones down,” WorkSafe said.

“Even after this argument, no Britton Housemovers employee called the appropriate authorities – they were called by the farmer.”

Arthur Britton and his company, Britton Housemovers Limited, were prosecuted in the Hastings District Court for breaching New Zealand’s Electricity Act 1992 and Health and Safety in Employment Act.

Britton was sentenced to four months’ home detention and his company was fined $60,000.

“Electricity is unforgiving. Leaving a live line on the side of the road and not notifying anyone is unacceptable – the shepherd and others in the vicinity could have been killed,” said Brett Murray, general manager of High Hazards and Specialist Services, WorkSafe.

For more details, visit WorkSafe New Zealand

Published on 26 February 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

A New Zealand farmer has been ordered to pay $152,000 after a farm worker was crushed to death.

The worker was crushed between an excavator and tree stumps while helping to clear scrub at the Orepuki farm in Southland, said WorkSafe New Zealand in a media release.

Farmer Frederick McCullough was prosecuted in the Invercargill District Court in November for breaching the New Zealand Health and Safety in Employment Act.

McCullough was ordered to pay reparation of $100,000 and was fined $52,000 for the death of the worker in August 2013.

“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,” said Keith Stewart, WorkSafe New Zealand’s chief investigator, in a media release.

“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.”

For more details visit WorkSafe New Zealand

Published on 4 December 2014 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin

Work-related traumatic injury fatalities are down, but vehicle incidents continue to play a significant role in these fatalities.

The latest report from Safe Work Australia reveals 191 workers died in 2013 compared to 228 in 2012. This is a 16 per cent decrease. It is also 39 per cent lower than the 311 deaths recorded in 2007.

Although most of the decrease from 2012 to 2013 was due to fewer workers killed in vehicle crashes on public roads, in 2013, 34 per cent of deaths were due to vehicle crashes.

In addition, 122 of the 191 fatalities in 2013 involved a vehicle.

However, it is notable that the work-related death toll due to vehicle crashes has halved from 130 in 2007 to 65 in 2013.

For more details, visit the traumatic fatalities report.

Published on 17 July 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

The Victorian WorkCover Authority is investigating the death of a worker who was crushed when a wall collapsed during strong winds in Brighton East last week.

It is believed the man was standing next to the brick wall, which was under construction, when it collapsed on him. The man died at the scene.

WorkCover’s executive director of health and safety, Len Neist, described the incident as “tragic”.

In a media statement following the incident, Neist urged builders to take precautions during windy days, saying builders must ensure “partially completed buildings and structures are well supported. Brick, block and concrete walls should be adequately braced until work is completed.”

He also noted the dangers of flying debris.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the deaths of two workers on the Stena Clyde mobile offshore drilling unit on 27 August 2012 has been handed to Commonwealth prosecutors.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has been investigating the deaths.

In mid-June, NOPSEMA announced it had submitted a brief of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) in April. The CDPP is deciding whether to prosecute.

For more details visit WorkCover and NOPSEMA.

Published on 3 July 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

An ACT company director has become the first officer of a corporation charged under the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws.

The charges follow an incident in which a truck driver died from an electric shock in 2012, says a Norton Rose Fulbright report.

The director has been charged under the ACT WHS Act for failing to exercise due diligence to ensure Kenoss Contractors complied with its WHS duties and failing to comply with his health and safety duty, the report says. He faces a potential maximum penalty of $300,000.

Although he has been charged in connection with Kenoss Contractors, the accused was not a director of this company, but a director of a related company, the report adds.

The case goes to trial in December. The director has already pleaded not guilty in an earlier mention of the case last week.

Kenoss Contractors has also been charged with breaching the ACT WHS Act in connection with the same incident. However, the company has gone into liquidation and the court will need to determine if the prosecution can go ahead, the report noted.

Since this report, the court has decided the prosecution of the liquidated company can proceed. The case will be heard at the same time as the director’s case, according to The Canberra Times.

The corporation faces a potential maximum penalty of $1.5 million.

For more details, visit Norton Rose Fulbright.

Published on 19 June 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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