Secure objects safely, coroner recommends

The death of a Dunedin man - killed when a tree stump rolled on him - has prompted a coroner to recommend people secure objects ''so that no person is crushed when the object falls or moves''.

Brian Weatherall (66) died on a rural Otago Peninsula property on March 25, 2013.

In the days before his death, Mr Weatherall and a friend had been cutting and collecting firewood from a macrocarpa tree, which had been felled in high winds.

The pair decided to tow the 2m stump remaining on the site, using a bulldozer, up the slope to a level area, as winching had proved unsuccessful.

While attaching a wire rope to the stump, Mr Weatherall walked beneath the stump on its downhill side when it spontaneously toppled and rolled over him.

He died at the scene.

A pathologist identified significant crush injuries, including a transection of the aorta.

Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar noted the pair were experienced in cutting logs and stumps, and the technique they adopted was reasonable, given other previous attempts to winch the stump had proven unsuccessful.

However, it appears their efforts had disturbed the stump, resulting in it moving at the very moment Mr Weatherall walked beneath it.

The coroner's report noted people working under objects, which could possibly fall or roll, should take appropriate measures to secure the object or isolate the danger area ''so that no person is crushed when the object falls or moves''.

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