The District Court has ordered an employer to pay over $440,000 in fines and reparations after an employee was crushed to death by machinery.

The employer exported goods in shipping containers. The containers were often in poor condition, and when delivered to the worksite, were placed on soft ground. Due to their condition and being on soft ground, the containers could become difficult to close.

On this occasion, the employee could not close a container and a co-worker used an excavator to realign the container shape and help it close. This was standard practice.

However, in this instance, the excavator driver did not disengage the hydraulics on the excavator. Machinery from the excavator swung down and crushed the employee who was trying to close the container.

Worksafe noted several health and safety failings that contributed to the accident:

  • The lack of a safety plan for operating the excavator;
  • Container being placed on soft and uneven ground;
  • The lack of a written policy requiring an exclusion zone from a container when the excavator was operating; and
  • The absence of a secondary safety mechanism on the excavator equipment.

The Court ordered the employer to pay $110,000 in reparations to the victim’s family and a fine of $330,750.

This case demonstrates the consequences that can occur if an employer does not take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.

If there are concerns about the health and safety practices in your workplace, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.


Alan Knowsley