Killed forestry worker's widow receives $97k reparation

James Oxenham died when a log fell on him from an overloaded dump truck as he was taking off the strops holding the load in place in the Te Wera forest. Photo / File
James Oxenham died when a log fell on him from an overloaded dump truck as he was taking off the strops holding the load in place in the Te Wera forest. Photo / File

The employers of a Taranaki forestry worker who died after an 800kg log fell on him has been fined more than $39,000 and ordered to pay more than more than $97,000 in reparation to his widow.

James Oxenham, 72, of Urenui, died on March 26 last year when the log fell on him from an overloaded dump truck as he was taking off the strops holding the load in place in the Te Wera forest, 40km east of Stratford.

In New Plymouth District Court today, his employer, G J Sole Ltd, was fined $39,375 and ordered to pay $97,655.45 in emotional harm reparations to Mr Oxenham's widow.

The company had earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to ensure the safety of the victim by failing to ensure he was not exposed to hazards arising from logging cartage work.

Mr Oxenham's wife and daughter described the heavy emotional toll his death has had on their lives in their victim impact statements.

A WorkSafe investigation found the company should have implemented an alternative method of carting the logs, ensured the logs remained below the level of the sides of bin of the dump truck, extended the sides of the bin with certified extension, put in place a written safe operative procedure and identified the risk of logs falling from the side of the dump truck in the company hazard register.

"These are not onerous requirements, particularly when they're contrasted with the loss of a worker's life and the impact of his death on his family and co-workers," WorkSafe's chief inspector Keith Stewart said.

"It is a hard lesson for the company to learn, and the family to suffer, but this tragic death has resulted in a series of operational changes at G J Sole Ltd which may have saved the victim's life if they had been in place in March 2015."

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- NZ Herald

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