$80k death fine

Last updated 14:00 14/02/2014

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A Taranaki contracting firm has been ordered to pay a total of $80,000 after a newly employed tree feller was killed by falling branches.

Adam Tony Olsson, 23, died when felling trees on a farm near the Bertrand Rd swingbridge at Titirangi on April 22 last year.

His employer R&S Dreaver pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety Act in failing to keep their worker safe.

In sentencing Dreavers in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday, Judge Keith de Ridder ordered the company pay $55,000 in emotional harm reparation plus a $25,000 fine.

WorkSafe New Zealand's general manager health and safety operations Ona de Rooy said the death was preventable.

"Adam Olsson was fresh on the job. He had no formal forestry industry qualification and had never previously worked on a tree-felling operation. His employer had a legal duty to ensure he was properly supervised.

"Mr Olsson was felling trees with a colleague who was operating a long track excavator with a grapple hook which meant under the best practice guidelines for tree-felling he was effectively in control of the operation - despite only having a matter of days experience on the job.

"He should never have been put in that position.

 "The hazard identification process at the site was also inadequate. While some hazards were identified there was no record of how they were to be managed. Had this simple step been taken the risks associated with felling a dead tree could have been assessed and prepared for.

"If the company had followed industry guidelines and provided a new and inexperienced worker with proper supervision Mr Olsson might still be with us today."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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