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Vehicle ‘had brake problems’  

Credit:  GRANT MILLER - Manawatu Standard, www.stuff.co.nz 16 December 2010 ~~

There was probably no way to apply the brakes when the vehicle a roading contractor was driving at a Manawatu wind farm started to career into a silt trap, injuring two men – one seriously.

The accident at the Te Rere Hau wind farm happened on May 10 and a Labour Department investigation released this week found a series of problems, including lack of safety procedures.

Contractor David Bargh suffered a fractured arm and kneecap, needed 12 stitches for a head cut and a calf muscle was severed.

Another worker whose name has been withheld by the Labour Department was more seriously hurt, suffering a fractured pelvis, arm and ribs. He also had bruised kidneys and a punctured lung.

He was knocked unconscious in the crash.

The Manawatu Standard requested the Labour Department’s report on the accident after officials decided not to prosecute wind farm owner New Zealand Windfarms over the accident.

Documents obtained reveal the contractors had been building a track at the wind farm when the crash occurred.

The investigation found that a new employee for D and V Bargh Contracting was driving a Moxy dump truck that had been recently serviced, but an instruction was issued that the brakes would need adjusting as they wore in.

Mr Bargh’s employee backed up to the edge of a slope, but the rear wheels travelled over the edge.

Mr Bargh called out to put the vehicle into first gear, but the Moxy stalled and Mr Bargh jumped onto the cab steps as it continued backwards down the embankment and hit a stone wall of a silt trap.

Mr Bargh was thrown clear into the middle of the trap and his employee was thrown from the cab into the rock face and fell to the bottom.

The report found no procedure was put into place to adjust the brakes and the brakes would not have worked if the engine was stopped and in gear.

“Therefore, with the Moxy in gear and the engine not fully operational, there may have been no braking ability and the front disc brakes could not be applied as there was no fluid in the reservoir.”

Mr Bargh told the investigation he had talked about putting brake fluid in the reservoir, but it didn’t happen. Mechanics found the spacing between brake shoes and brake drums on the rear wheels was excessive.

The Labour Department found the contracting company’s record keeping was poor and this impacted on health and safety processes. There was no formal maintenance programme.

The investigation found NZ Windfarms failed to verify the fitness of vehicles on the site.

The wind farm company also knew its contractor had poor record keeping.

Neither NZ Farms or Mr Bargh could not be reached for comment.

Source:  GRANT MILLER - Manawatu Standard, www.stuff.co.nz 16 December 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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