Company fined over construction death

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 13:45 11/04/2014
tatto
SUPPLIED
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: A tattoo of Jeff McCulloch on the arm of his daughter, Shyanne Barnes.

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Jeff McCulloch died before he could walk his daughters down the aisle.

But he will still be with Shyanne Barnes on her wedding day, imprinted in ink on her arm.

Barnes broke down today as she told the Napier District Court that every day she thought about her father dying on a construction site.

Patton Engineering was fined and ordered to pay the family compensation after McCulloch died on a Napier building site on May 15 last year.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of a worker under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

The Health and Safety Group of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment laid the charge late last year.

McCulloch, 53, was the foreman on a job to reinforce the old Farmers building on the corner of Emerson and Hastings streets.

Judge Tony Adeane said McCulloch was putting in steel beams with a colleague at the time of the accident.

It appears McCulloch stumbled and grabbed a beam for support, but it was not properly secured to the frame.

The beam dislodged and hit him on the head.

Workmates failed to resuscitate him, and McCulloch was pronounced dead at the scene.

The company had put $20,000 in a trust fund to go towards McCulloch's children and grandchildren before sentencing today.

It was fined $40,000 and ordered to pay $70,000 compensation, to be divided between McCulloch's two daughters.

In a victim-impact statement, Barnes said McCulloch was her mechanic, her security and her father.

He was always there to give her a hand or some money if she was struggling financially.

The 26-year-old said she often thought, "I'll ask Dad about that", but then anger and grief overwhelmed her as she remembered the day he died.

Some days she felt like she could not handle life and wanted to hide away in a corner.

Barnes was once a happy person but negativity and fear now ruled her life.

"I'm living in fear," she said.

" I'm scared all the time of losing another loved one."

The death had also affected her 4-year-old son, Jacobi. He often worried when his mother was at work, saying, "Granddad died at work".

It was heartbreaking to Barnes that her son associated work with death.

After the accident, Barnes had a portrait of her father tattooed on her forearm.

Outside court, Barnes said she was relieved someone had been held accountable for her father's death.

She was still coming to terms that her father would not be there on her wedding day.

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He would not see her younger sister finish high school or see his grandson grow up.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union Hawke's Bay and Gisborne manager Norm Mouritsen said: "It's an absolute tragedy ... the reality is a father and son is gone, and a partner, and you just can't bring him back."

He said there was still a long way to go in improving workplace health and safety.

- Fairfax Media

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