New Zealand Company Owner Prosecuted, Fined, following Worker Death

June 27, 2002
Crane safety isn't just a concern in the United States. The Occupational Safety and Health Service of the Department of Labor, New Zealand prosecuted a Whangarei crane owner after part of his crane fell on a boat owner and killed him.

Ross Richard Wyatt, doing business as A J Crane Hire, was convicted and fined $15,000 plus costs by Judge Tompkins of the Whangarei District Court. Wyatt was prosecuted as a self-employed person, under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

The prosecution was the result of an investigation into the death of a boat owner at a boatyard in Whangarei where a catamaran was being lifted by a crane, said Richard Willis, Northland service manager for the Occupational Safety and Health Service.

"This prosecution was about the crane operator's obligation to [be aware of] 'any other person.' That means any people in the vicinity of the work. Crane operators need to be especially careful about this. It is the second time this year that OSH has had a conviction involving cranes and other people who are not employees," said Willis.

The boat owner was killed when the hook and block from the crane, with a combined weight of 480kg, fell on him. The boat owner had returned to his boat to release a mooring line and was walking across the foredeck when the accident happened.

"It should serve as reminder that working beneath suspended loads is a very significant hazard," said Willis, who added, "Health and safety should be an integral part of any business. Even the self-employed must take a systematic approach to identifying workplace hazards and put systems in place to protect themselves and others. These systems need to be constantly reviewed and updated."

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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