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Drainage company fined by Labour Department after worker death

Dated: July 2010 Display all News Items

A construction company has been fined $35,000 and ordered to pay $45,000 in reparations following the death of an employee during work at a Nelson Subdivision.

Shane Cockcroft, who had worked in construction in the Nelson district for many years, died on December 11 2007, when an unsupported trench collapsed on top of him. He had been employed by Burgess Crowley Civil Ltd, (a New Plymouth based company with a Nelson branch) as a labourer/truck driver for about four months, when the accident happened on a subdivision on land above Atawhai Drive, Nelson.

Department Nelson manager Annette Baxter said Mr Cockcroft's death at work should never have happened.

"Our sympathies are with his family, friends and co-workers. We are deeply aware that the prosecution and fine of his employer offer little comfort after the tragedy of his death," she said. "We hope that the prosecution will remind companies, in the construction sector, about the potentially terrible human cost, plus financial costs, of failing to ensure workers are safe".

Cockcroft died when he was acting as 'spotter' during the excavation of a drainage trench in very wet and sticky clay. He had been standing in a trench with shoring, when a colleague noticed he had moved to a deep, unsupported trench. The colleague yelled for him to get out of the unsupported trench, but as he turned to move, about half a cubic meter of wet clay fell on to him. Mr Cockcroft died at the scene.

The Approved Code of Excavation and Shafts for Foundations requires that all excavations in which employee's are required to work must be shored or made safe.

For more information on the regulations call now on 0800 SHORENZ (0800 746 7369) or email: enquiries@shorenz.co.nz

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