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HomeNew ZealandEnviroWaste to pay almost $1m after worker crushed at landfill

EnviroWaste to pay almost $1m after worker crushed at landfill

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By Belinda Feek, Open Justice reporter of NZ Herald

Gratten Layne who was fatally crushed at EnviroWaste plant at Hampton Downs landfill in March 2020

Truck driver Gratten Layne died after being crushed when a loader crashed into his truck at the Hampton Downs landfill in north Waikato in 2020.
Photo: New Zealand Herald / supplied

The widow of a man crushed by his own truck at a landfill, says she’s been left “numb”, and that the accident should never have happened.

Gratten Layne’s employer, recycling and rubbish giant EnviroWaste, will now pay almost $1 million in remedial actions after the incident that happened at Waikato’s Hampton Downs landfill.

The Pāpāmoa truck driver was crushed after a loader driver reversed into his truck at the landfill in March 2020.

For an unknown reason, the loader driver slowly reversed for almost 30 metres, over a period of 14-seconds, without noticing the 60-year-old’s truck and trailer unit behind him. The loader driver was later convicted of careless driving causing death.

WorkSafe initially charged EnviroWaste, which has an 1100-strong workforce across the country, but has instead accepted an enforceable undertaking (EU) – meaning the company will avoid a criminal prosecution.

However, that EU comes at a cost of nearly $1 million, including $160,000 in reparations to Layne’s family. The company is also putting $250,000 towards artificial intelligence technology for health and safety and $300,000 towards developing and implementing ways to better understand risks, worker engagement and worker critical thinking.

As an illicit substance was found to be a contributing factor in the fatal accident, and at the wish of Layne’s widow, $200,000 will be funded for a youth alcohol and drug programme in Waikato.

WorkSafe’s head of specialist interventions, Dr Catherine Gardner, said the $961,973 investment would exceed any penalties handed down by a criminal court.

“This demonstrates a substantial commitment to health and safety and will see benefits being directed back to workers, the industry, and the community,” she said.

WorkSafe would regularly monitor the progress of the conditions in the EU, which is a legally binding document.

‘He was our rock’

Layne’s widow, who didn’t want to be named, said his death had left a hole in the lives of their family.

“He was our rock. Gratten loved being in the water, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and our long walks on the beach. Now I walk alone.”

She said that her husband’s death “shouldn’t have happened”.

“Things went terribly wrong and the right things weren’t put in place.

“I’m pleased WorkSafe ensures workplaces like EnviroWaste are held to account.”

EnviroWaste chief executive Chris Aughton said Layne’s loss had been “deeply felt” by all at the company.

The enforceable undertaking represented a “major investment and commitment from EnviroWaste to improve worker safety and prevent incidents like this happening again”.

“We believe the application of AI technology holds real potential for organisations to respond to risks and hazards in real time, and to improve the safety of workers through deeper engagement.

“It is important to us and the family that the benefits of the EU are shared across all industries operating in dynamic risk settings, so everyone can go home to their loved ones when they finish their working day.

“Boosting worker safety is a meaningful way we can honour Gratten’s life and legacy.”

Layne was the second EnviroWaste employee to die while at work.

Twenty-year-old Junior Hunt died in 2015 after being crushed by semi-automatic machinery on a recycling truck.

The company was ordered to pay $85,000 in reparations to Hunt’s family and was fined $66,000.

EnviroWaste also been subject to five other enforcement actions between 2007 and 2020.

This story was first published on the New Zealand Herald’s website.

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