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Dredging NZ sentenced after worker death

Posted on August 10, 2015

A dredging company has been ordered to pay more than $120,000 after a worker was crushed to death on a barge in November 2013.

Dredging NZ was sentenced in Auckland District Court yesterday on charges laid by Maritime New Zealand for failing to ensure the safety on an employee.

Peter Bateman died after being crushed between an excavator and the wall of a hopper, on a barge skippered by Brent Darrach in West Park Marina, Auckland.

Dredging NZ pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $79,500 and ordered to pay $42,000 in reparation.

Mr Darrach pleaded guilty in May to a charge that as an employee he failed to take all practicable steps to ensure no action or inaction of himself while at work harmed any other person.

He was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $18,000.

The accident happened when Mr Bateman left the barge he was operating to board Mr Darrach’s barge to travel as a passenger a short distance to the wharf.

The barges are moved by using the excavator arm to pull and push off the seabed. Mr Bateman died when the excavator rotated, crushing him between the back of the excavator and the hopper wall.

Maritime NZ director Keith Manch said Dredging NZ had no protocols for operation of the vessels, particularly where passengers were involved, and the danger zone within the turning area of excavator was not marked on the barge.

“There was no designated place on board where passengers were directed to sit, and no procedure for the operator to follow to ensure passengers, or nearby personnel, were well clear of any hazards,” Mr Manch said.

“Alternatively, the company could have had in place a policy ensuring that passengers were not carried on barges while they were operating.

“This was a tragic event that could have been avoided if appropriate safety systems were in place.”

Dredging NZ has been approached for comment.

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