No one has been held to account for the death of Masterton man Warren Carter. PHOTO/FILE
Nobody is being held accountable for the death of Masterton man Warren Carter, killed when an Army Unimog truck driven by a trainee hit the car he was driving near Ashhurst in August last year.
No agency, or minister, will take any further action after the driver of the truck, Dayne Pennington, was discharged without conviction this week
At Palmerston North District Court on Wednesday Judge Jim Large also imposed no driving disqualification on Pennington, 24, after the soldier admitted a charge of careless driving causing death.
At the time of the accident, Pennington was undergoing workplace training, but WorkSafe – the agency responsible for workplace health and safety – won’t investigate.
Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway won’t talk to WorkSafe about its decision because it is “an operational issue”.
The New Zealand Defence Force said the Army had reviewed its training course “to ensure the correct sequencing of lessons”.
It found no reason to make any changes.
The damage to Mr Warren’s car, and his injuries, was made worse because a winch was mounted on the truck’s bumper.
After initially saying winches had been removed from trucks using public roads, the NZDF sent a clarification.
“Vehicles with winches mounted will still be operated on public roads for tasks other than driver training and licencing purposes.”
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, responsibility for health and safety rests with the “Person conducting a business or undertaking” – the PCBU – in this case the Army.
WorkSafe’s website states the PCBU “must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, and that other persons are not put at risk by its work”.
This is called, it says, the “primary duty of care”.
Nevertheless, a WorkSafe spokesperson told the Times-Age this week “it was decided that the police was the most appropriate agency to deal with the matter”.
But the police cannot bring a prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Mr Carter’s widow, Joan Carter, welcomed the judge’s decision this week – hugging Pennington at the court – but slammed the Army for its response in an open letter.
“The major issue for me is that the justice system has placed responsibility in the wrong place and, in fact the Army should, at the very least also been charged with causing Warren’s death.”
She also questioned why Pennington was at the wheel.
“Not only had the driver only held his full car license for five weeks but [he] had also only gained his restricted license five months earlier… you cannot buy experience and one day driving that truck on [an] Army base before going out on narrow public roads is not acceptable to me either as the victim of this accident, or as the driver on public roads.
“I was told the justice system could only charge the driver for the accident; but how do you differentiate his part from that of the instructor, the winch on the truck, and the Army protocol which put this man behind the wheel without the necessary experience to react correctly when confronted with an emergency situation?”