Talleys sentence sends strong message after death

Talleys Group Ltd has been fined $48,000 and ordered to pay $35,000 in reparation to the family of a crewman killed after falling nearly 7m on the vessel Capt MJ Souza in Nelson in May 2012.

The company was sentenced in Nelson District Court on 29 April 2015 after being found guilty in March of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees after the death of crewman Cain Adams.

The reparations ordered are in addition to a payment of $54,000 already made to the family by the company.

Mr Adams died while working on the Capt MJ Souza after he stepped onto a hatch on the main deck that rotated, causing him to fall nearly 6.9m through another open hatch in the deck below to the floor of the vessel’s fish well.

Maritime NZ prosecuted Talleys under section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work.

Following a defended hearing, the company was found guilty in the Nelson District Court on 23 March.

At the time of the accident, several contractors were at work on the vessel, with the hatch on the main deck left vented, or partly open, to allow hoses and cables to pass through it.

In his judgment, District Court Judge Ian Mill said the company “either foresaw the risk but did not take all reasonably practical steps in the circumstances of this case or ought to have foreseen the risk and failed to do so”.

“These practical steps were no more than ones already available but not used because the Captain and crew were lulled into a false sense of security from years of using the same practice without incident and always treating a vented hatch as safe,” Judge Mill said.

Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch said lessons must be learned from the accident.

“This was a tragic incident that could have been avoided through very simple measures,” he said.

“Ships are inherently dangerous working environments and employers must ensure all practicable safety steps are taken to protect their employees when they are on the job. All employees have the right to come home safely from work.

“Our thoughts are very much with the family of Cain Adams, for whom this case will have been extremely difficult, but the whole of the maritime sector must heed the lessons of this case.”

The maximum penalty for breaching section 6 of the Health and Safety Act is a fine of $250,000.

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