Man's death at concrete factory 'a tragedy waiting to happen'

Worksafe New Zealand says it's "completely unacceptable" that a machine which had multiple safety issues was being used by a concrete company before an employee was run over and killed.

WorkSafe NZ Source: 1 NEWS

Anthony Wells was run over by the 6.5 tonne telehandler, which was configured as a forklift, in the front yard of Busck Prestressed Concrete Limited's Christchurch factory in the early hours of February 25, 2013. He died from his injuries within a few minutes.

The company was fined $70,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $60,000 at the Christchurch District Court yesterday for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Wells' safety at work.

Worksafe New Zealand says the machine, which was being driven by a trainee with no formal qualifications, was found to have multiple safety issues and was simply not in a fit state to be used.

The issues included the fact that the headlights, front indicators, brake lights, front hazard lights, horn, screen washers and front wipers were not working.

The vehicle also had four different brands of tyres with four different pressures, all of which were below the manufacturer's specification. The right wing mirror was missing and the overload buzzer were also not working.

WorkSafe New Zealand's Chief Investigator Keith Stewart says "the catalogue of safety issues identified with the telehandler is completely unacceptable".

"This is a 6.5 tonne vehicle used to move heavy concrete railway sleepers around - it should have been properly maintained to ensure it was safe to use.

"Busck Prestressed Concrete also failed in its duty to maintain the lighting to ensure it was safe to work in dark conditions. This accident happened at 5:30 in the morning - if the lights weren't adequate it should not have had its workers out in the yard."

He said the telehandler driver should also have been given proper training and supervision.

"Sadly, given the state of the telehandler and the poor lighting in the factory yard, Mr Wells' death was a tragedy waiting to happen," Mr Stewart says.