A coroner wants all tractors to be fitted with seatbelts - but the farming industry isn't backing his call.
The call was made at an inquest into the case of Grant Murray Yates, 22, who died when he was thrown from a tractor and crushed by the machine as it rolled at Mangaheia Station in Poverty Bay on June 6 last year.
"If a seatbelt had been fitted and used, it is likely Grant would have survived," Gisborne coroner Allan Hall said.
He said blood tests showed Mr Yates was affected by cannabis at the time, but the cause of the accident was that the tractor was taken downhill on a steep slope, which was unsafe.
"I have dealt with a number of tractor accidents and I am concerned there is no requirement to have a seatbelt in a tractor used for agricultural work," Mr Hall said.
Federated Farmers health and safety spokesman Frank Brenmuhl said compulsion would be a last resort for the farming industry.
He said wearing seatbelts would be impractical for most farmers, who spent their days "hopping on and off their tractor".
"I think there's an opportunity to educate farmers about the desirability of wearing seatbelts, but regulation is a last resort," Mr Brenmuhl said.
Because tractors were operated on private property, a seatbelt law would be impossible to police.
The coroner's comments were in response to recommendations by Department of Labour health and safety inspector Rod Gordon that seatbelts be provided on tractors.
The Public Trust Office, as trustee of the station, had acknowledged breaching the Health and Safety in Employment Act, which says an employer must take practical steps to ensure the safety of employees at work.
It had pleaded guilty to a case brought against it by the Department of Labour and had been sentenced to pay reparations to the family.
Mr Yates had been employed by Mangaheia Station for about six months before his death.
On the day of the accident, Mr Yates and four other employees loaded battens, posts and railings on to a trailer being towed by the tractor, and went to an area they were fencing.
When one employee started laying the battens by hand, Mr Yates suggested using the tractor.
Mr Hall said he thought Mr Yates got a surprise when the tractor started because he said, "Shit, I have not been on a steep hill like this before."
He started down the slope, then braked, skidding to a stop on an 18-degree slope.
He went forward another 7m before going into a skid for about 27m.
He then came to the brow of a steeper slope, where the trailer jack-knifed.
The tractor rolled at least once, coming to rest a further 27m down the slope.
Mr Yates was found near the front wheels of the tractor.
The autopsy report indicated the cause of death was a crushing injury to the chest and a ruptured lower abdominal wall.