Truck repair company fined after loose wheel kills tourist
11 April 2011
Counties Automotive Diesel Repairs Limited, a Pukekohe based company has today been fined $5,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $68,582 after a Vietnamese tourist was killed in an accident on Auckland’s southern motorway on 14 January 2010.
At the time of the accident a truck, recently serviced by the company, was travelling south on the motorway when its outer and inner left back wheels came off. One of the wheels bounced across the motorway into the oncoming lanes before smashing through the windscreen of a bus travelling north.
The Pukekohe District Court heard that Mr Xuan Lam from Vietnam, was sitting in the front seat of the bus when the wheel struck. He was hit in the head and was taken to hospital but later died from his injuries.
Counties Automotive Diesel Repairs Limited had removed the left rear wheels while fixing the guard just days before the accident. The Department of Labour investigation found the employee who worked on the vehicle had no formal motor mechanic qualifications and failed to tighten the wheel nuts properly after fixing the guard.
“This was a horrific accident in which a man lost his life while simply travelling on a bus on Auckland’s motorway,” says Craig White, the Department’s Manukau Service Manager.
“The saddest thing is that the accident could very easily have been prevented. The company should have had formal written procedures in place to let customers know their truck wheels had been removed and refitted – and should have reminded them to have the wheel nuts checked before it had travelled the next 150 kilometres. This very basic step could have saved a life,” Mr White says.
“Employers and people in control of workplaces must realise that they have a responsibility to take all practicable steps to make sure that the actions or inactions of their employees don’t cause harm.
“In this instance it would have meant having a formal written check list in place, ensuring appropriate sign off procedures were in place, regularly supervising their employee’s work and ensuring that equipment used was in good working order.”
Note to Editor
- Counties Automotive Diesel Repairs Limited was convicted on one charge under Section 15 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
- Section 15 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 states: Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of any employee while at work harms any other person.
- The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online