WorkSafe New Zealand is warning businesses that it is unacceptable to allow staff to operate cranes and other machinery without direct supervision or appropriate training.

The warning comes after a fatal incident in Christchurch in January 2020.

An employee at Glaziers Choice Limited, trading as Stake Glass, was crushed by a pack lifter crane implement which was attached to a 2.5 tonne pack of glass.

The overhead gantry crane was controlled by a handheld remote control, and the employee had climbed up the pack lifter to hook the crane hook onto it.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that the victim, who was training to use the crane, used it at times without direct supervision and at the time of the incident was completely unsupervised. The business also had a generic and incomplete health and safety system and its risk register was inadequate.

The investigation also found that crane implements should not be left attached to a load.

WorkSafe Area Investigation Manager Steve Kelly says that this situation could have been completely avoided if the employee had been properly supervised while he was being trained and if the pack lifter was stored without a load attached.

“This is a situation that reinforces the need for proper health and safety systems to be in place. Employees that are not competent in operating machinery must be effectively supervised.”

WorkSafe reminds businesses and employees that unsafe use of crane equipment presents significant risk potential for people and property. WorkSafe provide a number of resources for businesses using cranes, including an approved code of practice – Cranes | WorkSafe.


  • The company was sentenced on Thursday 1 July at the Christchurch District Court.
  • A fine of $270,000 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $110,000 was ordered to be paid to the victim’s family

Media contact details

For more information you can contact our Media Team using our media request form. Alternatively, you can:

Phone: 021 823 007 or

Email: media@worksafe.govt.nz