Death costs Ze­spri $250k

Wairarapa News - - FARMING - GER­ARD HUTCHING

Ze­spri has vol­un­tar­ily paid $250,000 to­wards safety mea­sures fol­low­ing the death of an or­chard worker in a quad bike ac­ci­dent, in­clud­ing $25,000 to the fam­ily of the worker.

WorkSafe ac­cepted what is called an ‘‘en­force­able un­der­tak­ing’’ - an al­ter­na­tive to a pros­e­cu­tion - from the ki­wifruit co-op­er­a­tive. Three other par­ties have been charged with the death which oc­curred on a Tau­ranga or­chard in May 2016.

They in­clude a con­tract­ing com­pany, the grower and a pack­house. This case is one of the first multi-party pros­e­cu­tions un­der­taken by WorkSafe, and the fourth en­force­able un­der­tak­ing ac­cepted.

Ze­spri has pledged to fund a num­ber of mea­sures to im­prove safety, rang­ing from health and safety re­views of con­trac­tors, ed­u­ca­tion, in­dus­try-wide re­search, spon­sor­ing and pro­mot­ing the Hor­ti­cul­tural Health and Safety Fo­rum, and es­tab­lish­ing a ter­tiary schol­ar­ship for ac­cred­ited health and safety stud­ies.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred when a worker was col­lect­ing sam­ples of ki­wifruit to check whether they were ma­ture or not.

WorkSafe al­leged Ze­spri failed to en­sure the safety of the worker, who was an em­ployee of AgFirst Bay of Plenty. Ze­spri had con­tracted AgFirst to carry out the ma­tu­rity sam­pling.

WorkSafe said Ze­spri had failed to de­sign and im­ple­ment an ef­fec­tive sys- tem to en­sure or­chard maps pro­duced by grow­ers and sup­plied to AgFirst recorded po­ten­tial hazards, in­clud­ing those posed to the ma­tu­rity sam­ple col­lec­tors.

It had also failed to en­sure the work­ers re­ceived an in­duc­tion at each or­chard site point­ing out po­ten­tial hazards in­clud­ing steep ter­rain.

The fam­ily of the worker had been con­tacted and were sat­is­fied with the out­come. The vic­tim’s daugh­ter was sup­port­ive of an en­force­able un­der­tak­ing as an al­ter­na­tive to a pros­e­cu­tion.

The worker died in a quad bike ac­ci­dent while col­lect­ing sam­ples of ki­wifruit on a Tau­ranga or­chard.

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