"In Oct 2020, near Whangarei, a trailer’s safety chain failed, disconnecting it from the truck towing it. A 9yr old girl in a car in oncoming traffic died” - WORKSAFE
On the 29th of July 2022 Johnstons Direct Logistics Ltd was sentenced at the Whangarei District Court, ordered to pay $145,000 in reparations and a fine of $50,000. The death of a nine-year-old girl in a Northland traffic crash was traced back to a badly worn down towball and coupling on a trailer used by them. The trailer’s safety chain failed, disconnecting it from the truck towing it in October 2020. The trailer collided with an oncoming car the young girl was travelling in near Mata, south of Whangārei.
WorkSafe found that:
The condition of the towball and tow coupling was of “significant concern”.
There was very extensive wearing on both, which meant a small bump in the road, or change of incline, could allow the trailer to easily decouple.
The trailer’s certificate of fitness had expired.
The tyres had uneven pressure.
The company did not do regular or effective inspections of its vehicles - and failed to identify the deterioration of the towball and coupling.
All NZ companies have a duty to ensure the health and safety of other people is not adversely affected by their work - this includes the condition of their vehicles, trailers or towing methods. What can you as a business do make sure you're meeting this duty?
Regularly inspect your vehicles, towballs, tow couplings and trailers
Make your trailers always have a valid certificate of fitness
Make sure your tyres have even pressure
Make sure your workers are trained in how to couple a trailer correctly to a vehicle
Make sure the communication lines are open with workers - so that they share any concerns they might have - about anything!
Safety works when people work together.