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Company fined over bulldozer roll

A forestry company has been ordered to pay almost $68,000 after an employee was seriously injured when the bulldozer he was driving rolled 65m down a bank.

Dylan Terry suffered lacerations and a broken hip. He required 140 stitches and a five-hour operation after the incident, and was unable to walk for six weeks.

NZ Forestry Logistics Limited pleaded guilty to failing to take practicable steps to ensure the safety of the employee yesterday in the Masterton District Court.

The company was ordered to pay reparations of $35,000, an additional $1910 for financial loss, and fined $31,000.

On February 15 last year, Terry, 22, was assisting in a line change for a cable harvest operation in Erindale Forest between Masterton and Castlepoint, even though he did not possess the appropriate unit standards to operate tracked machinery in a forestry situation.

Mr Terry had worked in the forestry industry for the past seven years and had some experience with bulldozers.

He was using a radio to stay in contact with a supervisor as he reversed the bulldozer to the top of the track which was narrow due to slippage.

Upon reaching the top he stopped and turned to talk to the supervisor – the bulldozer leaned and then toppled down the hillside.

A WorkSafe expert said it was unlikely the track had been constructed using the cut and fill method which would have ensured suitable composition of the outside track, the court heard.

Lawyer Alice Liddell, representing WorkSafe, said the company should have ensured the employee was under documented training and close supervision or deemed competent to operate the bulldozer in this situation.

She said the company should have developed, implemented, and maintained a hazard management plan specific to the situation.

Judge Barbara Morris said where the track had been narrow, extra caution and planning had been needed to manage the hazard.

She credited the company for having the appropriate roll cage and safety belt in the bulldozer.

“[He] probably has the roll cage and safety belt to thank for the fact he wasn’t killed and wasn’t injured more severely than he was.”

She said the victim was a stoic young man who wished to return to work.

He did not blame his employer, he blamed himself, she said.

However, it was the employer’s responsibility to ensure his safety.

She said the company had been fully cooperative in the investigation and was certainly not a cowboy operation when it came to health and safety.

There were no previous convictions and the company had a great track record in this area.

The company pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity a move she said showed they were prepared “to stand up and accept responsibility”.

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