Earlier this year, Hastings District Council in New Zealand was ordered to pay $65,000 in emotional harm reparation and a fine of $29,500 following the death of 4-year-old boy Uetaha Dahtanian Ransfield-Wanoa, who was killed under a lawnmower while playing in a park. The total cost to the council, including an earlier payment and court costs, was $389,500.
WorkSafe New Zealand alleged that Hastings District Council had failed to “Take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of the employee while at work harms any other person”. This charge relates to Section 15 of the New Zealand Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
The 73-year-old council employee who was operating the lawnmower was sentenced to six months of home detention and 100 hours of community work after he pleaded guilty to reckless driving causing death. He was also ordered to pay $5,000 in reparation.
Hastings District Council has now instructed all mowers to leave a clear radius of 30 metres at all times during mowing. If a person breaches that safety radius, the mower is instructed to stop. Safety protocols are now more clearly explained and signposted.
“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies continue to go to the family of Uetaha, as they struggle to cope with their loss. We also think of the driver and his family, for whom the accident has been tragic and life-changing”, said Hastings District Council’s Acting Chief Executive John O’Shaughnessy.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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