Intoxicated operators have no place manning heavy machinery

23 December 2022

The risks of working under the influence of alcohol has been highlighted in a prosecution of a port worker.

The digger operator, Mark Deans was sentenced and fined in the Invercargill District Court in relation to an incident at Port Otago.

On the morning of 17 October, 2021 Mr Deans arrived late to work, missing the toolbox meeting and failed to report in to his foreman. Heading straight to the IVS Kingbird, replacing another operator stowing away logs. Mr Deans was not rostered to be working on the digger.

He was contacted by the foreman, who asked him to report to see him, he declined, saying he would report in five minutes.

While stowing, the digger tipped over as Mr Deans was lifting and moving logs whilst the digger was in a precarious position.

The foreman froze operations, when exiting the digger, it was noticed Mr Deans was unsteady on his feet. He was taken to the break room for observations. A breath alcohol test was undertaken, with Mr Deans’ recording readings of 880 and 830 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath. The legal limit is 250 micrograms.

Maritime NZ Investigations Manager, Pete Dwen says Mr Deans breached his responsibilities as a worker by turning up under the influence of alcohol.

“His employer, C3 have steps in place to mitigate against the risk of incidents like these occurring. They include toolbox meetings, and getting staff to check in with the foreman should they be late and miss the toolbox meeting.

“He bypassed all of these processes, knowing he would likely have been too impaired to undertake his job safely.

“Working under the influence of alcohol is exceptionally dangerous, and Mr Deans continues to suffer ongoing concussion issues as a result of the incident,” Pete Dwen says.

The level of intoxication of Mr Deans was significantly above the limit imposed by the company’s policy, and Mr Deans was over twice the legal limit of breath alcohol for operating a motor vehicle on the road.

Follow us News feed

Call the MNZ media line