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Ashburton Irrigation Company Fined $103,000 Over Employee Death

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Oct 16 NZPA - An Ashburton irrigation company has been fined more than $103,000 over the death of an employee in 2006 when he was buried in a trench.

KB Irrigation Ltd was fined $20,000 and ordered to pay $83,000 in reparation relating to the death of Rod O'Connor. The company was sentenced in Oamaru District Court today, and had previously pleaded guilty to the charge.

Mr O'Connor died in July 2006 when a section of a 3m high trench collapsed and buried him as he repaired an irrigation scheme at Horse Gully, near Oamaru.

The Department of Labour prosecuted KB Irrigation for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee, and for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that he was not exposed to the hazard of a trench collapse in his place of work.

"Just expecting staff to be careful is not enough," said the department's acting Dunedin service manager, Adrian Mair.

"Employers have a duty to ensure they have effective health and safety systems in place.

"Employers also need to adequately supervise and monitor employees, ensure employees are adequately trained and follow the relevant codes of practice and industry best practice."

It was the second company sentenced in court this week over an employee death in a collapsing trench. On Monday, Burgess Crowley Civil Ltd was fined $35,000 and ordered to pay $45,000 after the death in Nelson last December of Shane Cockroft.

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