A foreign worker at a luxury Waikato resort narrowly escaped being crushed by a three-tonne tractor with faulty brakes.

On March 5, an Argentinian worker was using the tractor to clean up branches from recently felled trees at the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel, near Cambridge.

He parked next to a two-metre hight bank and filled the receptacle. He then jumped on the tractor, put it in neutral and started the machine.

Because it had faulty brakes, the tractor rolled towards the bank and the man couldn't stop it so he had to jump off. He fell two metres and landed on a gravel path.


The tractor rolled over the embankment and only missed crushing the man by 10 centimetres. The man suffered an injured shoulder, bruising and abrasions.

The company that runs the hotel, Kingstown Blue Spring Resort Ltd, admitted a charge laid under the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to keep their worker safe.

At the Auckland District Court on Friday, the company was fined $42,525 and ordered to pay $5000 reparation.

It has owned the resort since August last year and at the time of the incident employed 16 people, five of whom were foreign backpackers. The injured man was in New Zealand on a working visa and was employed as a groundsman and part-time bartender.

WorkSafe NZ's investigation into the incident found several safety failings.

"The tractor was in poor condition, posing a significant hazard," said Keith Stewart, WorkSafe's chief inspector.

"When the tractor was inspected, multiple issues were found, including worn brakes, bald front tyres and loose bolts in the axle beam.

"The tractor was also parked a few metres from a curved, dirt bank with few barriers. While the employee had been driving the tractor daily for almost six months, he didn't have any tractor experience before working at the resort and was not provided with any training or supervision by his employers," Mr Stewart said.


"Kingstown Blue Spring Resort Ltd should have ensured that the tractor was properly maintained and serviced, that staff were properly trained and that hazards associated with the tractors were managed."