The Grim Harvest
Lifestyle Block - Autumn Fatality
In autumn 2007, during construction of a housing subdivision, a worker was fatally injured when the tractor he was operating rolled down a bank.
The victim was employed as a machine operator and the property he was working on was being developed as a lifestyle farm block.
The work being carried out involved removing all vegetation, shaping and contouring the land, and replanting some of it with native plants. A large part of the work involved spreading bark chips on steeper areas where grass could not be grown.
It was while doing this work that the worker was fatality injured.
The victim's tractor had become stuck in the bark. An attempt was made to recover the tractor with a chain attached to a tracked excavator. Unfortunately, the chain came out of the hook on the excavator and caused the tractor to roll down the bank.
As the tractor rolled over, the glass door to the cab shattered. The victim was partially thrown out of the broken door and was crushed between the cab and the ground.
An investigation into the incident revealed that the tractor being used by the victim was not the vehicle originally approved to carry out the task by the employer. Furthermore, after the tractor became stuck, the chain used for recovery was unsafely attached.
The victim has been described as a competent machine operator but on the evidence available, and the lack of any evidence to the contrary, it was concluded that some errors of judgement may have contributed to his death. It is also likely that had the tractor been fitted with a functional seatbelt, and he had been wearing it, he would have survived the rollover.
This autumn, if a situation looks or feels dodgy then STOP. THINK about your options and DO act in the safest way.