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Fines imposed over man sucked into silo

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/06/2017

Fines totalling more than $100,000 have been handed down after an electrician was sucked into grain in a silo in Southland.

Electrical company Austin Bros (1980) has been fined $35,000 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees.

The farming partnership Mark and Sonia Dillon was fined $69,000 on three charges, including Mr Dillon's actions in turning on the augur that resulted in the electrician being engulfed.

In a reserved decision in Gore District Court, the defendants were each ordered to pay $5000 in reparation.

Of that $10,000 total, $7000 was awarded to the victim of the engulfment and $3000 to another electrician who got him out of the silo and sounded the alarm.

WorkSafe chief inspector Keith Stewart says the dangers of working on grain are well known.

He says poor risk management, emergency planning and training for confined spaces work put one person's life in danger and threatened the safety of 14 others who went to his aid.

"It was good luck rather than good management that meant no one died in this incident," he said.

In March 2016, two electricians were wiring up motors in a newly commissioned grain silo on the Dillon's farm near Riversdale.

They were working on top of the grain without harnesses and with no power isolation.

A truck arrived to empty the silo and the grain outfeed auger was turned on.

One electrician was engulfed in the grain and had to be dug out and resuscitated. Four rescuers required hospital treatment for breathing difficulties.

Mr Stewart said the electricians should have been wearing harnesses and the truck driver should have been told they were in the silo.

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