WorkSafe New Zealand v Enviro Waste Services Ltd [2016] NZDC 5425

Published 27 April 2021

Sentencing — failing to ensure the safety of employees — glass recycling truck — crush injuries — bin-lifting mechanism — Department of Labour v Hanham & Philp Contractors Ltd & Ors (2008) 9 NZELC 93, 095 (2008) 6 NZELR 79. The defendant appeared for sentencing on a charge of failing to ensure the safety of its employees. The defendant company contracted to collect waste and recycling in the Wellington region, and used trucks equipped with a semi-automatic system for lifting bins. The incident giving rise to the charge occurred when one the defendant's employee drivers (the victim) became trapped between the lifting system and the body of the truck. He was unable to be rescued in time and died of his injuries. An investigation into the incident revealed that the victim had not been trained properly in his employer's operating procedures. Also, at the time of the incident the victim was engaged in work that he lacked the experience to do properly; further, the defendant had previously identified possible safety risks from the lifting system. The Court ordered reparations to the victim's family of $85,000. In setting a fine, the Court observed that the defendant had used an operating system known to be unsafe, and had failed to properly train the victim or ensure he was doing appropriate work. The Court considered the defendant's culpability to be high, and set a start point of $100,000. The defendant earned discounts for ability to pay reparations, cooperation with the investigation, steps taken since the accident, and guilty plea. The final fine was $56,250, plus court costs of $130 and solicitor's fees of $650. Judgment Date: 23 March 2016.