• Company pleaded guilty to health and safety charges
• Ordered to pay family reparations or $85,000
• Fined $66,000
A recycling company has been ordered to pay a fine and reparations totalling more than $150,000 over the death of a 20-year-old worker who was crushed by semi-automatic machinery on a truck.
Junior Hunt suffered severe crush injuries in the accident in Wellington involving a recycling truck's bin-lifter on March 3 last year; he died the following evening.
Despite the efforts of a member of the public at the scene of the accident in Upton Tce, Thorndon to release the bin-lifter, Mr Hunt remained trapped between it and the centre pod of the truck until emergency services arrived. The bin-lifter moves a bin of sorted glass to an opening on the top of the truck.
He was an employee of Enterprise Recruitment under its contract with household refuse and recycling company Envirowaste Services Ltd.
Envirowaste pleaded guilty in the Wellington District Court to charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, said the Government agency WorkSafe NZ.
Envirowaste was ordered to pay $85,000 in reparations to Mr Hunt's family. It was also fined $66,000 and must pay court costs.
WorkSafe said an investigation found multiple health and safety failures.
The victim had not been trained in line with the company's training policy, and the company failed to take a number of steps to safely manage the hazard posed by the bin-lifting mechanism.
Envirowaste had been involved in the design of the glass recycling truck and in particular its bin-lifting mechanism. The bin-lifting mechanism on the company's recycling trucks had a semi-automatic function that exposed the operator to a potential crushing hazard by allowing them to be in close proximity of the bin-lift during the bin-lifting process. The semi-automatic function also put the public at potential risk as the absence of manual operation in this setting meant that drivers could leave the vicinity during the bin-lifting process.
Envirowaste employees at the Wellington branch had also noted issues with bin-lifters stalling in mid-air although this was not recorded on the company's hazard list and no actions were taken to eliminate the bin-stalling hazard.
WorkSafe chief inspector Keith Stewart says there were many opportunities for Envirowaste (ESL) to have identified the risks from the work and to put in place safe systems to reduce the risk to its staff and contractor employees.
"The victim was a young worker, tragically taken in the prime of his life. 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."