Stadium stunt backfires

Department of Labour officials are less than thrilled with Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin's handling of a mechanical excavator.

Mr Chin took the controls this week as part of a publicity stunt on Monday, promoting the start of construction at the Forsyth Barr Stadium site in Dunedin.

And, while he succeeded in demolishing part of a building, Mr Chin also managed to topple Hall Bros Transport operations manager Nick McEwan from the vehicle with an involuntary lurch of the excavator.

Mr Chin later described the experience as "quite a thrill", but several people contacted the Otago Daily Times yesterday to express concern.

Department of Labour spokesman Eric Janse van Rensburg, of Wellington, said no formal complaint had been received, but the department was aware of the incident and would be investigating.

"The particulars of this incident will be discussed with the parties involved to ensure that they are all reminded of the department's expectations."

Health and safety laws required those in control of a workplace to ensure the safety of others on site, and, in Mr Chin's case, a person with appropriate training, skills and experience was expected to supervise such an operation, he said.

Mr McEwan was standing on the machine's tracks, supervising Mr Chin's actions inside the cab, when the machine lurched backwards, causing him to lose his balance. He landed on his feet and was not hurt.

Contacted last night, Mr Chin said he was yet to hear from the department, but added: "In the event the department speaks to me, I will certainly have to hear what they say and respond accordingly."



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