Court Summary - at a glance

Date of offence:
15 March 2016, 16 March 2016
Final decision date:
Fine imposed:

Safety lessons learned:
  1. Identify the hazard of engulfment within grain silos;
  2. Develop, communicate and enforce policies and procedures including a safe working procedure for confined space work which includes:
    • Hazard identification;
    • Risk assessment;
    • Permit to work;
    • Training requirements;
    • Competency assessment;
    • Supervision;
    • Isolation of all services;
    • Atmospheric monitoring;
    • Safety equipment requirements;
    • Personal protective equipment requirements; and
    • Emergency planning.
  3. Ensure that all employees receive sufficient training in regards to confined space work and work at height;
  4. Monitor employee performance in regards to confined space work and work at height;
  5. Provide suitable and sufficient safety equipment to ensure work in a confined space and at height can be carried out safely. In particular;
    1. Ensure that suitable safety equipment is provided such as a harness attached to a lifeline or other device that is securely fastened at its extremity; and
    2. That another employee attends who is competent, equipped and stationed to effect an immediate rescue if any employee becomes trapped or engulfed;
  6. Ensure effective communication with the contractors on how the work is to be undertaken, what the hazards are and how they are to be controlled;
  7. Ensure that the contractors take all necessary safety precautions when working on the grain;
  8. Ensure that contractors are made aware of safety exits and procedures for a confined space, namely the silo;
  9. Ensure that the power source to the outfeed auger is isolated prior work commencing in the silo; and
  10. To have communicated with the contractors that the outfeed auger on the silo was about to be started and, ensure that no one is working inside the silo before attempting to start the outfeed auger.

Defendant name:
Sonia Ellen Dillon and Mark John Dillon (In Partnership)
Date of offence:
15 March 2016, 16 March 2016
Facts in brief:
On 15 March 2016 the defendant and two employees entered the grain silo on a farm in Southland to assess the stirrer motors. No harm ensued.

On 16 March 2016, two electricians (the victim and a co-worker) entered the grain silo to wire up a motor that powers the grain stirrer. While the electricians were working inside, the outfeed auger on the silo was started. The defendant did not communicate to the electricians that the silo would be emptied. As a result, the grain inside the silo rapidly sunk down. The victim, who was standing at the time, sunk into the grain. The victim’s co-worker exited the silo, shut off the auger and raised the alarm that the victim was trapped. They managed to free the victim who was completely engulfed in grain.

The victim was transferred to Dunedin hospital via helicopter for a medical assessment and discharged later that afternoon. In total 15 people were exposed to the risk including emergency personnel.
Related prosecutions:
Offence section:
Sections 6, 17, 18(1)(a) and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
Date(s) charged:

Gore - District Court
Final decision date:
Fine imposed:
Maximum fine available:
$7,000 and $3,000