Screens & Feeders

Quarry company fined over driver?s death

In April 2015, 24-year-old father of- one Tane Hill-Ormsby died at the scene when the fully laden vehicle he was riding in was involved in an incident in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

At Tauranga District Court on 14 June, employer Oropi Quarries Limited (OQL) was ordered to pay $NZD100,000 ($AUD95,000) to the family of the deceased.

WorkSafe New Zealand, which carried out an investigation into the incident, revealed that in March it had to prohibit work at the same quarry after finding similar health and safety failings that led to the worker's death.

"It is almost beyond comprehension, that having had a tragic and preventable death under their watch, the quarry operators had not learned the lessons and made sure everyone on that site was safe every hour it was working," chief investigator Keith Stewart said.

WorkSafe outlined to the court 14 steps OQL should have taken to ensure the victim's safety.

Independent experts inspecting the dump truck on behalf of WorkSafe also identified 32 faults with the vehicle, ranging from mismatched and over-inflated tyres to a missing door on the cab.

Stewart commented: "There were significant issues with vehicle maintenance, failures to train the worker, a lack of policy on wearing seatbelts and a lack of supervision.

“The failures by this company and its director to ensure this young worker was able to go home healthy and safe have a left a mother without her only son, a partner who was looking forward to a marriage that will never happen, and a four-year-old without a father.”

The work ban imposed by WorkSafe was later lifted after OQL was able to show it had resolved the issues.

At a sentencing hearing on 10 June, the operator and its sole director Catherine Renner were accused of a "litany of health and safety failures" by the prosecutor.

In addition to the emotional harm reparations, the judge fined OQL $NZD54,000 ($AUD51,700) and Renner $NZD9600 ($AUD9200).

The ruling comes as WorkSafe New Zealand is taking steps to reform quarries in the country following a series of workplace fatalities last year.

As previously reported by Quarry, Ormsby’s death occurred less than a month after 43-year-old Scott Baldwin was killed in a machinery accident. Murray Taylor, 56, was killed in June 2015 after being engulfed by rock and Mario Lelina, a 30-year-old man who had been operating machinery at an alluvial gold mine in Waikaia, was later added to the extractive industries death count in November.

WorkSafe is working with national health and safety council MinEx to identify all unregistered quarries, said to present the most risk of incidents.

More reading
Safety council on hunt for small, unregistered quarries
Quarry death intensifies calls for stronger regulation
NZ launches guidelines in response to fatalities
Quarry deaths spark calls for reform

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