Catherine Gaffaney is a general reporter based in Auckland.

Quarry firm fined $54k after employee crushed to death

New health and safety legislation specific to mining and quarrying was introduced in April this year. Photo / Getty
New health and safety legislation specific to mining and quarrying was introduced in April this year. Photo / Getty

A South Canterbury quarry firm has been fined $54,000 and ordered to pay $100,000 in reparation to the family of an employee crushed to death while operating heavy machinery.

Scott Baldwin, 43, died at Gordons Valley Lime Company near Timaru on March 19, 2015. He was the quarry manager and sole regular employee on the quarry site.

About 7.30pm that evening, a neighbour heard the motors at the site running at a high pitch. The neighbour entered the quarry shed and found Mr Baldwin's severely injured body lying underneath rotating machinery.

A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found the quarry owner, Transport (Waimate) Limited, failed to identify and manage the clear hazard posed by the quarry machinery.

Transport (Waimate) was fined $54,000 at sentencing at Timaru District Court yesterday and ordered to pay $100,000 in reparation to Mr Baldwin's family.

The company previously pleaded guilty to failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Mr Baldwin and failing to ensure he held a current certificate of competence as a quarry manager.

WorkSafe found there were no processes in place to stop maintenance of machinery being carried out while the machinery was running, and there were no effective controls for an operator to stop the top motor in an emergency.

The company had also made a "significant failure" in not ensuring Mr Baldwin held an appropriate qualification to manage the quarry, according to WorkSafe.

WorkSafe chief inspector Keith Stewart said there were several steps the company could have taken to prevent the death.

These included installing fixed guarding to make sure people could not reach into dangerous parts of machinery at all times, conducting regular audits for hazard identification, and ensuring Mr Baldwin was not left to work alone and unsupervised.

Mr Baldwin's death was a reminder of the horrific things which can happen when adequate safety measures are not in place, he said.

"Large machinery used on quarries poses an inherent danger to anyone that comes into close contact with it.

"Transport (Waimate) failed to protect its employee, and tragically, in this instance, Mr Baldwin has had to pay the ultimate price for the company's failings."

A month after Mr Baldwin's death, Tane Hill-Ormsby, 24, died after being trapped under the 45-tonne rock carter he was driving at Oropi Quarries in Tauranga when it tipped over.

The deaths led to the Health and Safety Council for Mining/Extractives (quarrying) seeking the public's help to find unregistered quarries, and calls for the Government to take further action against quarries.

The Government introduced new Health and Safety at Work legislation specific to mining and quarrying in April this year.

- NZ Herald

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