Another trainee killed on the job


WorkSafe New Zealand says urgent action is needed by the trades to take better care of apprentices, after the second court sentencing this year for health and safety failures resulting in a trainee’s death

Josh Masters was fixing the hydraulics on a log loader when the vehicle’s boom fell and crushed him at Balmoral Forest in North Canterbury in January 2022. Mr Masters had nearly completed his diesel mechanic apprenticeship with Button Logging Limited – which has now been sentenced for health and safety failures.

The 23-year-old was told to position the loader’s forks vertically to gain access for the repairs, but the boom fell when the forks collapsed.

A WorkSafe investigation found the company didn’t have an effective procedure for the repairs, and when Mr Masters asked for help on how to proceed, he was given inadequate instruction and supervision.

“It was Button Logging’s responsibility to set down its expectations for working under a raised boom, and they had to ensure all workers, including apprentices, had knowledge of and were properly trained to meet those expectations,” says WorkSafe’s acting national investigations manager, Casey Broad.

”This tragic case is about the failure to manage a critical risk – it was utterly preventable and avoidable. As a result of that, a family is now deprived of a son, grandson, brother, and partner.”

Businesses must manage their risks, and WorkSafe’s role is to influence businesses to meet their responsibilities and keep people healthy and safe.

“Although Mr Masters was nearing the end of his apprenticeship, he didn’t have decades of experience to his name and deserved better when he sought direction,” says Mr Broad.

The sentencing of Button Logging follows another in late January, over the death of 19-year-old apprentice builder Ethan Perham-Turner in Bay of Plenty.

“Apprentices are the future generation, and companies that take on apprentices need to recognise they have a responsibility to look after them as they do with their own employees and put health and safety first,” says Mr Broad.

Read about the recent WorkSafe prosecution over the death of Ethan Perham-Turner


  • Button Logging Limited was sentenced at the Christchurch District Court on 9 May 2024.
  • A fine of $302,500 was imposed, and reparations of $278,000 ordered
  • Button Logging Limited was charged under sections 36(1)(a) and 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
    • Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU, including Josh Masters, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, namely repairing a wheel loader, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed a person to risk of death or serious injury from being struck or crushed by the wheel loader’s boom.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.