A fertiliser spreading company has been ordered to pay $150,000 after a worker was killed on the job.

In June 2014, Leslie Cain died when the bulk fertiliser spreader he was driving down a grassy hill rolled, coming to rest on its roof.

He was not wearing a seatbelt, and died as a result of his injuries.

The vehicle, which weighed an estimated 14-18 tonnes, was owned by company PJ Wright Limited, formerly known as Te Anau Bulk Haulage (TBHL).


Mr Cain was a self-employed contractor engaged by the company, which was ordered to pay reparations of $85,000 to his family in the Invercargill District Court today.

The company was also ordered to pay $65,000 in fines after being found guilty of one charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Cain's safety.

Judge Carolyn Henwood found at trial that TBHL failed to take six practicable steps to ensure Mr Cain's safety.

She also noted that no steps were taken by TBHL to formally educate or train itself or its contractors about up-to-date health and safety practices in the industry.

Judge Henwood also found that TBHL failed to ensure Mr Cain wore a seatbelt while driving the vehicle off road, despite it being recommended by the Ground Spreader Fertilisers Association and police.

"A more professional and robust approach about health and safety is needed by this company," she said.

At sentencing, the Court also noted that TBHL had sold off all its assets after charges were laid against them.

Despite the company no longer having financial capacity to pay the fine, the judge still imposed the $65,000 fine, maintaining that the law did not allow for such behaviour.

WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart said TBHL skipped basic steps that would have helped to ensure that any contractor engaged by the company was equipped to do their job safely.

"The company's lack of health and safety policy, failure to communicate hazard and risk identification with its contractors, and 'optional' approach to wearing safety belts clearly demonstrate its hands-off approach to workplace safety.

"This tragic death isn't a case of 'accidents just happen' -- there needs be a systematic approach to good health and safety otherwise you are relying purely on chance. Sadly, this has been proven time and time again not to work."