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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


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