Recycling death caused by safety 'failures'

  • 24/03/2016
Wellington District Court (Newshub. / Simon Wong)
Wellington District Court (Newshub. / Simon Wong)

A recycling collection firm has been ordered to pay $151,000 over the death of a worker on one of its Wellington trucks.

Junior Hunt, 20, was sole operator on a recycling truck in Thorndon in March last year, when he got caught between the hydraulic arms on the side of the truck and the truck itself.

Despite a member of the public trying to release the machinery, Mr Hunt could not be freed and suffered severe crush injuries.

He died in Wellington Hospital the following evening.

A WorkSafe investigation found Enviro Waste Services Limited (ESL), which hired Mr Hunt as a contractor, was responsible for multiple health and safety failures.

WorkSafe chief inspector Keith Stewart said ESL had many opportunities to identify and fix risks in its workplace, but did not do so.

"The victim was a young worker, tragically taken in the prime of his life," he said.

"Sadly, ESL's failures to keep Junior Hunt safe by providing adequate training and properly managing the hazards on the recycling truck have resulted in devastating and irreversible consequences for the victim and his family."

Mr Hunt had not been trained in line with the company's training method, and ESL had failed to take steps to safely manage the hazard posed by the truck's bin-lifting hydraulic arms.

The mechanism had a semi-automatic function that put the operator at risk of being crushed, as they needed to be in close proximity to the bin while it was being lifted.

Wellington employees of ESL had noted the bin lifting arms tended to stall mid-air, but this was not recorded on ESL's hazard list, and was not fixed.

The company was sentenced in Wellington District Court this morning after pleading guilty to charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

It was fined $66,000, ordered to pay court costs, and pay Mr Hunt's family $85,000 in reparations.

NZN