Dangerous workplace practice leaves fruit picker with two broken legs
01 May 2008
The $20,000 sentence handed down to a Kiwifruit orchardist after a worker broke both legs should highlight to the horticulture industry that they should not allow employees to ride on trailers, the Department of Labour says.
Ralf Rothschild, a partner in a Katikati kiwifruit orchard management business, has been fined $7,500 and ordered to pay reparations of $12,500 to Chilean national employee Constanza Corvillon.
Mr Rothschild was found guilty in the Tauranga District Court on April 23 of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of his employee. The charges were brought by the Department under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
In May 2007 Ms Corvillon was employed as a kiwifruit picker by Mr Rothschild while on a working holiday in New Zealand. She suffered a fractured right tibia, fractured left ankle and a large laceration to her right leg when she was run over and trapped beneath a trailer on which she was riding as a passenger. The trailer was attached to a tractor driven by Mr Rothschild.
The trailer was carrying three bins full of kiwifruit and several other employees, and the combined weight was estimated to be at least 1 tonne.
Department of Labour Workplace Regional Manager Ona De Rooy said carrying employees as passengers on tractors or bin trailers is very dangerous. Although these hazards are widely recognised within the industry, it is still unfortunately a relatively common practice.
“This serious injury was entirely avoidable and this kind of workplace practice is extremely dangerous and unacceptable. Keep your employees safe and under no circumstances allow them to ride on bin trailers.”