Patiole Vanu

Court Summary - at a glance

Date of offence:
18 May 2015
 
Plea:
• Guilty
• Withdrawn
 
Decision:
• Convicted
• Withdrawn
 
Final decision date:
 
Fine imposed:
$45,000

Safety lessons learned:
  • Ensure an appropriate traffic management and signage put in place before commencing tree work in the proximity of a road;
  • Ensuring that the appropriate notifications are made prior to commencing works in the proximity of power line and railway tracks and that proximity permits were sought;
  • Ensure that trees are scarfed in a manner consistent with industry best practice;
  • Ensure that correct equipment is used for tree work, in this instance a wire rope that was free of knots, excessive wear and damage, and had been certified by the manufacturer/vendor as to its breaking strength; and
  • Ensure that person working in arboriculture were appropriately trained and qualified.

Defendant name:
Patiole Vanu
 
Industry:
Forestry
 
Date of offence:
18 May 2015
 
Facts in brief:
The Defendant, trading under the name “Fast Tree Services,” specialised in tree care including the trimming, topping and pruning of trees.

At the time of the incident, the owner of a property had engaged the Defendant to remove five Macrocarpa trees positioned along the front of the property adjacent to the road. The trees ranged from 31 to 33 metres in height and weighed approximately 20 tonnes. On the opposite side of the road were 11,000 volt powerlines and railway lines.

A single cone was placed on the road but there was no approved traffic management plan put in place and no contact was made with Wellington Electricity Lines (‘WEL’) who manages the power lines or with KiwiRail prior to commencing work.

The wire rope used to secure the trees had not been tested or certified, and had kinks, knots and stranded wires. When used secure the largest of the trees, the wire rope snapped, leaving the tree unsupported and leaning towards the roadside.

The Defendant contacted Tree Scape Limited (‘TSL’) for assistance, an employee of TSL then contacted WEL and KiwiRail. The only safe option available was to earth and isolate the power lines and let the tree fall onto the road. WEL accrued costs of $10000 in repairing the power lines and restoring power and TSL Limited accrued $3657.50 (excluding GST) in costs in clearing the tree off the road and power lines.
 
Offence section:
• Sections 16(1)(b)(i) and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
• Sections 17 and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
 
Date charged:

Court:
Hamilton - District Court
 
Plea:
• Guilty
• Withdrawn
 
Final decision date:
 
Decision:
• Convicted
• Withdrawn
 
Fine imposed:
$45,000
 
Maximum fine available:
$250,000
 
Reparation:
$17,214.98 ($13,557.48 to WEL and $3,657.50 to TSL) to be paid at a rate of $20.00 per week.