There are no second chances with heavy machinery, says WorkSafe, after the sentencing of Easton Agriculture Limited last week in Palmerston North District Court.

The sentencing follows the death of a worker in April, 2016 after he became trapped in a potato harvester on a farm in Shannon.

The worker had been employed by the defendant for more than 30 years and was familiar with the machine he was operating.

WorkSafe's investigation found the machine had no guarding over a nip point between exposed rollers on the machine; Easton Agriculture had no lone worker policy in place and did not have a standard operating procedure for the safe operation of the machine.


Guarding could have saved the worker's life.

"This fatality is a sombre reminder that some of the machines we work with have the potential to kill us," WorkSafe deputy general manager of investigations, Simon Humphries, said.

"When it comes to big pieces of machinery, there are no second chances. Limbs and lives are lost.

"It's a new year. Take stock of your machines and the risks associated with them and spend the time to mitigate those risks — so that if you or your workers make a mistake — you just might have saved a life".

For reasons that cannot be published, no fine could be imposed. However the court said had a fine been available, it would have been $330,000.

Reparation of $85,000 to the victim's family was ordered and payable as well as $3500 in costs.

Easton Agriculture Limited was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015:

Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who worked for the PCBU, while the workers were at work in the business of undertaking.


The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.