Waiariki Institute of Technology

Court Summary - at a glance

Date of offence:
26 August 2014
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Final decision date:
 
Fine imposed:
Defendant was not liable to be fined as it is a Crown Organisation pursuant to the Crown Organisations (Criminal Liability) Act 2002

Safety lessons learned:
  1. Should not permit employees to fell trees without first assessing their competence in tree felling.
  2. Develop written processes around how tutors are to source wood safely, including when tree felling could occur and distribute this to all relevant tutors.

Defendant name:
Waiariki Institute of Technology
 
Industry:
Education and training
 
Date of offence:
26 August 2014
 
Facts in brief:
Defendant is a tertiary education institution in the Bay of Plenty. The victim was employed by the Defendant as a tutor for the Forest Operations. On 26 August 2014, he took seven students to a farm to demonstrate tree felling. He felled two trees and the students trimmed and cut them. He decided to fell the last tree, 24 metres high, on a significant lean and there was a large branch jutting out the back of it.

The victim instructed the students to stand near a parked van while he felled the third tree. They were standing closer than two tree-lengths away from the tree. The victim was aware of this but he thought the position was desirable as he wanted to be able to see the students.

He asked one of the students to ‘spot’ for him while he made the scarf cut on the tree due to the branch at the back of the tree. He realised that the student was in his escape route and asked him to move back to the other students.

The victim cut the right side of the back cut and inadvertently cut the hingewood off. When the final backcut was made, the tree released and fell in an unintended direction. The back branch swung around and the tree crushed his right shoulder and side.

He suffered a fractured right shoulder, severe abdomen pain, lower back fracture, lower leg fracture, fractured 5 ribs slight collapse in both lungs and cruised vertebrae.
 
Offence section:
Section 6 and 15 of Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
 
Date charged:

Court:
Rotorua - District Court
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Final decision date:
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Fine imposed:
Defendant was not liable to be fined as it is a Crown Organisation pursuant to the Crown Organisations (Criminal Liability) Act 2002
 
Maximum fine available:
$250,000
 
Reparation:
$40,000