Employer sentenced to home detention after worker death

  • 22/03/2016

The boss of a Waikato construction company has been sentenced to home detention over the death of a worker on a farm site.

Michael Haines, 34, died helping to install a pipe join in a trench on a Matamata farm in May 2014.

While he was clearing dirt, the face of the trench collapsed on him, and approximately five cubic metres of soil with an estimated weight of eight tonnes crushed him.

WorkSafe found the trench had not been shored up to prevent its collapse, and there had been no geotechnical assessment of the site to check soil stability before work began.

Steelcon Construction Limited and its director Rodney Bishop pleaded guilty to one charge each under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

Mr Bishop was sentenced to four months home detention in Hamilton District Court and his company was fined $56,000 and ordered to pay $121,320 reparation.

WorkSafe chief inspector Keith Stewart said Mr Haines' death was a tragic reminder of the inherent risks of excavation work.

"He was needlessly in harm's way while at work. We know how to dig trenches safely - it's not hard to take the necessary safety precautions," he said.