Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Family of killed man gets $100k after 'litany' of failures

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TRAGEDY: A 24-year-old Tauranga man was killed after losing control of the dump truck he was operating while working at Oropi Quarry in April last year.PHOTO/FILE
TRAGEDY: A 24-year-old Tauranga man was killed after losing control of the dump truck he was operating while working at Oropi Quarry in April last year.PHOTO/FILE

The employers of a young father, who died in a workplace accident, have been ordered to pay his grieving family $100,000 after a "litany of health and safety failures".

The 24-year-old Tauranga man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was killed after losing control of the dump truck he was operating while working at Oropi Quarry in April last year.

Oropi Quarry Ltd and its sole director Catherine Renner were this week ordered to pay emotional harm reparation of $100,000 to the family when they appeared in Tauranga District Court following a Worksafe NZ investigation into the man's death.

The company was also fined $54,000 and Mrs Renner $9600.

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The victim suffered severe injuries and died at the scene. He had been operating a dump truck, commonly known as a "moxy", despite being assigned other duties.

It was not known why, as the victim was inexperienced and not approved to operate the vehicle.

However, the quarry manager was not on site at the time but a senior employee fulfilling the role of acting manager loaded the dump truck for the victim with no attempt to prevent him driving it.

The victim drove the dump truck down a steep decline, subsequently described by police investigators as "narrow, steep and slippery underfoot", and lost control. The vehicle was seen to lurch and speed up.

Apparent attempts made by the victim to slow the dump truck by turning it into a bank were unsuccessful. The vehicle went over the edge of the road.

The fully laden bin which weighed 45 tonnes tipped, spilling its contents throughout the cab of the dump truck.

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The victim was found buried beneath the contents of the tray and died from the extensive injuries he suffered.

Faults were found with the heavy machine vehicle, including a missing door, mechanical defects and substandard tyres.

Judge Paul Mabey said its poor condition was one of 14 steps identified in the investigation which could have ensured the victim's safety.

Judge Mabey said the matter had been a "tragic and trying case".

"[The victim] was the provider to his family. He loved his daughter, who misses him daily. His partner describes her sense of loss and pain in personal and very emotional terms ... their grief is palpably expressed in her victim impact statement."

"This is a serious case of its kind. That is demonstrated by the multiple practicable steps that both defendants failed to take in breach of the Heath and Safety Act 1992," he said.

"I hasten to add that this has not been an easy matter for Mrs Renner, whom I am aware has taken steps to acknowledge that loss of [the victim] ..."

Prosecutor Anna Longdill accused the company of a "litany of health and safety failures".

WorkSafe's chief investigator Keith Stewart said in a statement released after the case there were significant issues with vehicle maintenance, failures to train the worker, a lack of policy on wearing seatbelts, and a lack of supervision.

Members of the man's family had their names suppressed.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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