Extendable trailer specs

Death of a child in Northland caused by a break in the safety chain of a trailer

The death of a 9-year-old girl after a trailer crashed into an oncoming car was caused by a badly worn hitch ball and hitch, WorkSafe says.

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The death of a 9-year-old girl after a trailer crashed into an oncoming car was caused by a badly worn hitch ball and hitch, WorkSafe says.

The death of a 9-year-old girl after a trailer crashed into an oncoming car was caused by a badly worn hitch ball and hitch, WorkSafe says.

The owner-operator of the trailer, Johnston’s Direct Logistics Ltd, has now been convicted in Whangārei District Court for health and safety violations.

The company was ordered to pay nearly $200,000 in fines and compensation for the incident that took place in October 2020 just south of Whangārei.

An expert analysis commissioned by WorkSafe found the condition of the hitch ball and tow hitch to be a “significant concern”.

There was very heavy wear on both which meant that a small bump in the road or a change in incline could cause the trailer to easily uncouple.

Johnston's Direct Logistics Ltd has been convicted in Whangārei District Court of health and safety failures following the death in October 2020. (File photo)

Simon Maude / Stuff

Johnston’s Direct Logistics Ltd has been convicted in Whangārei District Court of health and safety failures following the death in October 2020. (File photo)

The trailer also did not have a certificate of fitness or the correct pressure in the tires.

WorkSafe alleged that Johnston’s Direct Logistics failed to perform regular and effective inspections of its vehicles and failed to identify the hitch ball and hitch deterioration.

“The company had a duty to ensure that the health and safety of other people was not affected by its work,” WorkSafe manager Danielle Henry said.

“Johnston’s should have regularly inspected all of its vehicles, including trailer hitches and hitch balls, to ensure they were safe and in working order.”

The company also should have made sure its vehicles had current warrants or fitness certificates, WorkSafe said.

Additionally, Johnston’s should have identified and recorded the maximum weight that each towing vehicle and trailer could support, to ensure the towing components were safe to use.

An order to pay reparations of $145,000 was imposed, along with a fine of $50,000.

“This tragedy should serve as a warning to other companies to take a closer look at basic maintenance. A young girl’s life was lost through no fault of hers and her whānau is forever affected,” said Henry added.


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