17 Nov 2015

$116,000 fine over Auckland crane death

6:29 pm on 17 November 2015

An Auckland construction company has been ordered to pay $116,000 for not doing enough to protect an employee who died on the job.

Roy Chan was killed in December 2013, when he was crushed by the arm of a crane while carrying out maintenance work.

The company, AJ Russell Bricklayers, pleaded guilty to not taking all practicable steps to protect Mr Chan's safety.

In the Auckland District Court this afternoon, Judge Tony Fitzgerald ordered the company to pay $80,000 to the victim's family, on top of $37,000 already paid.

He also fined the company $36,000.

Judge Fitzgerald acknowledged the company's clean safety record, co-operation with the family and its remorse.

WorkSafe New Zealand programme manager for construction Marcus Nalter said Mr Chan's death was a preventable tragedy.

Mr Chan, who had 40 years' experience in the crane industry and had worked for the company for more than 30 years, was greasing a crane as part of routine end-of-year maintenance when it appeared he inadvertently activated a remote control unit he was wearing, Mr Nalter said. That caused the crane's boom to swing to the truck deck, crushing Mr Chan.

"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 crane's 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", Mr Nalter said.