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Drainage Company Fined After Worker Death In Nelson

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

13 OCT 2008 - A construction company has been fined $35,000 and ordered to pay $45,000 in reparations following the death of an employee during work at a Nelson subdivision.

Shane Cockroft, who had worked in construction in the Nelson district for many years, died on December 11 last year when an unsupported trench collapsed on top of him. He had been employed by Burgess Crowley Civil Ltd, a New Plymouth-based company with a Nelson branch, as a labourer/truck driver for about four months when the accident happened on a subdivision on land above Atawhai Drive, Nelson.

Burgess Crowley Civil Ltd was prosecuted by the Department of Labour under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee at work. The Department said the company had failed to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Cockroft was not exposed to the hazard of a collapsed trench.

Department Nelson manager Annette Baxter said Mr Cockroft's death at work should never have happened.

"Our sympathies are with his family, friends and co-workers. We are deeply aware that the prosecution and fine of his employer offer little comfort after the tragedy of his death," she said. "We hope though that the prosecution will remind companies in the construction sector about the potentially terrible human cost, plus financial costs, of failing to ensure workers are safe."

Mr Cockcroft died when he was acting as 'spotter' during the excavation of a drainage trench in very wet and sticky clay. He had been standing in a trench with shoring, when a colleague noticed he had moved to a deep, unsupported trench. The colleague yelled for him to get out of the unsupported trench, but as he turned to move, about half a cubic meter of wet clay fell on to him. Mr Cockcroft died at the scene.

The Approved Code of Excavation and Shafts for Foundations requires that all excavations in which employee are required to work must be shored or made safe.

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