Company ordered to pay $116,000 over crane death

November 18, 2015

Auckland company AJ Russell Bricklayers Limited has been ordered to pay reparation of $80,000 and been fined $36,000 over the death of an experienced crane operator who was crushed between the boom of a crane and a truck deck.

Roy Chan had 40 years experience in the crane industry and had worked for AJ Russell Bricklayers for more than 30 years at the time of the incident on December 20 2013.

Mr Chan was greasing a crane as part of routine end of year maintenance when it appears he inadvertently activated a remote control unit he was wearing. That caused the cranes boom to move towards the truck deck, crushing and fatally injuring Mr Chan.

AJ Russell Bricklayers plead guilty to one charge under section 6 and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure Mr Chans safety at work. It was sentenced today in the Auckland District Court.

WorkSafe New Zealands Programme Manager for Construction, Marcus Nalter, says Mr Chans death was a preventable tragedy.

The company did not have a proper plan in place to ensure that in-house maintenance work was done as safely as possible.

There were at least two simple steps that could have prevented this death the cranes power take-off should have been turned off and workers should have been instructed not to wear remote control units during cleaning and maintenance work. If such a regime had been in place and been observed then the crane would not have been able to move in the way it did.

Heavy vehicles such as cranes are always a potential workplace hazard but with proper planning and safety systems those risks can be managed, says Marcus Nalter.