Council and contractors fined $255,000

by | Aug 30, 2017 | Health & Safety

In October 2016 the Auckland Council and contractors were required to pay $255,000 over the death of a 19 year old refuse worker.

Refuse worker Jane Devonshire was killed in August last year when a rubbish truck, owned by Auckland Council contractor Onyx, went over a cliff in Birkenhead on the North Shore. Devonshire, of West Harbour, was in her fifth week on the job working as a rubbish runner. She was standing on the left side of the cab when the brakes failed, causing it to careen 120m down a hill and off a cliff. The North Shore District Court heard at sentencing today that Devonshire was thrown from the truck and was crushed when it landed on her.

Court findings
The truck was found to be overdue for a major service, brake issues had been identified but not rectified and the warning lights on the dashboard weren’t working.

Two weeks earlier, the same truck broke down on the side of the road and the mechanic identified the third axel break linings were low. A job card was filled but got missed in a pile of paperwork until after the incident.

The parties charged were: Auckland Council, Veolia ES Technical Solutions which was contracted to collect rubbish bags, N P Dobbe Maintenance Limited which was contracted to maintain the fleet, and Truck Leasing Limited, which owned the trucks.

They were all charged under the Health and Safety in Employment Act with failing to take all practical steps to ensure employees were not harmed.  

  • Auckland Council was found to have insufficiently audited its subcontractors
  • Veolia insufficiently oversaw its fleet and did not keep sufficient records. The company was also already on notice following another rubbish truck death in 2007, only a few streets away from the incident involving Devonshire. Veolia accepted it inadequately supervised the maintenance of the fleet and there were inadequate communications between the three subcontractors. Since the incident, Veolia had changed many of its practises including bringing maintenance in-house, more inspections and a renewed focus on training.
  • N P Dobbe was found to have inadequately maintained the truck. The company accepted they were at fault but said no one person was totally responsible.
  • Truck Leasing Limited has been also been charged for insufficiently monitoring its fleet but has pleaded not guilty. It will defend the charge over a six week trial set down for next year.

It is imperative that you monitor and understand the safety standards of the companies you subcontract work to. Let HRtoolkit show you how.

Download our Health and Safety Toolkit and use our tools to request your contractors health and safety plans, standards, policies and procedures. 












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