Worker falls to his death after wire rope snaps


Routine inspection and maintenance of the company’s wired edge protection would have saved this worker’s life

In January 2019 the worker was transporting cars using a trailer he leased from Car Haulaways Limited. He loaded a car onto the top deck of the trailer, whilst strapping the vehicle down the wired edge protection that he was leaning against snapped and the worker fell three metres to the ground below. He later died in hospital as a result of brain injuries.

WorkSafe’s Investigations Manager for South Island Steve Kelly says an investigation found that there were two pieces of wire rope acting as a barrier around the trailers top deck.

“Testing showed these ropes were severely corroded. Our investigation also found that limited space on the trailers meant that workers had to turn sideways and push up against the wire ropes when entering and exiting vehicles and strapping down the wheels.

Kelly says the businesses incident register had recorded four falls from heights on trailers between 2017 and 2018. Previous reports prepared for the business also highlighted the need for proper maintenance of the wire ropes.

“The risk was very much on the businesses radar. They should have ensured that these wire ropes were inspected regularly and periodically replaced by a competent person to ensure they remained fit for purpose.”

Edge protection must be inspected, maintained and routinely replaced to ensure it can effectively keep workers safe from a fall from heights.

Car Haulaways Limited was ordered to pay a fine of $279,000 and reparation of $90,000 to the victim’s family.


  • Car Haulaways Limited was sentenced at the Wellington District Court on Thursday 18 February.
  • A fine of $279,000 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $90,000 was ordered to be paid to the victim’s family.
  • Car Haulaways Limited was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 48(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, while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking, namely loading a car transporter trailer, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed any individual to a risk of death or serious injury arising from work at a height.
  • Carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.