Dredging NZ sentenced after death of worker

Dredging NZ has been fined $79,500 and ordered to pay $42,000 in reparation after the death of a worker, crushed on a dredging barge in West Park Marina, Auckland, on 19 November 2013.

Peter Bateman died after being crushed between an excavator and the wall of a hopper on a barge being skippered by Brent Darrach.

Dredging NZ was sentenced on 21 July in Auckland District Court after pleading guilty to a charge laid by Maritime New Zealand under section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 that as an employer it failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees at work.

In May, Mr Darrach was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $18,000 after pleading guilty to a charge under section 19 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, that as an employee he failed to take all practicable steps to ensure no action or inaction of himself while at work harmed any other person.

The company operates barges fitted with an excavator and a hopper, or walled bin, in which to collect excavated material.

The accident happened when Mr Bateman left the barge he was operating to board Mr Darrach’s barge to travel as a passenger a short distance to the wharf.

The barges are moved by using the excavator arm to pull and push off the seabed. Mr Bateman died when the excavator rotated, crushing him between the back of the excavator and the hopper wall.

Dredging NZ had no protocols for operation of the vessels, particularly where passengers were involved. The danger zone within the turning area of excavator was not marked on the barge and Mr Bateman was standing within this area when the accident occurred.

“There was no designated place on board where passengers were directed to sit, and no procedure for the operator to follow to ensure passengers, or nearby personnel, were well clear of any hazards,” Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch said.

“Alternatively, the company could have had in place a policy ensuring that passengers were not carried on barges while they were operating.

“This was a tragic event that could have been avoided if appropriate safety systems were in place.”