Vineyard fined after worker injured

By Trevor Quinn of the Wairarapa Times-Age -
Looking over Craggy Range Winery towards Te Mata Peak from Tuki Tuki Road. Photo / APN
Looking over Craggy Range Winery towards Te Mata Peak from Tuki Tuki Road. Photo / APN

Craggy Range vineyard in Martinborough has been fined $36,000 after a contractor fractured his arm when he was thrown from a quad bike and run over by a trailer.

The victim was lucky not to suffer more serious injuries after the trailer wheel narrowly missed his head.

Judge Peter Hobbs also ordered the vineyard to pay $6500 in reparation to the victim after hearing the details of the case in Masterton District Court today.

The company pleaded guilty to a charge brought by the Health and Safety Group of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

Judge Hobbs fined the vineyard after ruling it had breached the Health and Safety in Employment Act by failing to take all practicable steps to ensure an employee of its contractor was not harmed.

The judge said Craggy Range was ultimately responsible for the accident which occurred on May 10 of last year. The impact led to the victim, Luke Dylan Crawford, suffering significant injuries.

The incident could quite easily have resulted in Mr Crawford's death, the judge said.

Judge Hobbs said the company's failure to ensure passengers were safely positioned on the quad bike was the major contributing factor. "It seems to me that you should have taken further steps to prohibit people from riding on the back of these quads before the accident."

The vineyard regularly hired contract workers for seasonal tasks such as picking and transporting grapes.

On the day of the accident Mr Crawford, an employee of Bunty Horticulture, arrived at the vineyard to start grape picking along with a number of other contract workers.

At around 2.15pm, a quad bike driver was using a Honda TRX 500cc quad bike with a trailer attached to pick up and transport grapes. Two passengers, one of whom was Mr Crawford, were sitting on the rear of the quad bike just before it began moving.

Mr Crawford and his work colleague had positioned themselves on either side of the flat carrier, facing forwards. Neither had worn helmets. As the driver accelerated forward the front wheels lifted off the ground, causing Mr Crawford to lurch backwards and fall off the vehicle.

He landed on his stomach, between the rear of the quad bike and trailer. When he realised one of the trailer wheels was close to his head, he attempted to push himself out of the way. But in doing so his right arm was run over by the wheel. It was later discovered he had a fractured arm.

Craggy Range vineyard declined to comment when contacted by the Wairarapa Times-Age.

MBIE Wairarapa service manager Dave Hulston said the safety inadequacies displayed by the vineyard were in contrast to all best health and safety practices.

"The circumstances of this accident directly contravene a critical piece of advice provided by the quad bike manufacturer and by the Ministry's quad bike harm reduction programme - these machines are not designed to carry passengers."

Judge Hobbs praised Craggy Range vineyard's health and safety record prior to the accident and its subsequent response to health and safety procedures.

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