The kiwifruit industry has defended its safety procedures after a teenage worker was critically injured in a tractor accident.
The 15-year-old male fruit picker remains in intensive care at Tauranga Hospital with broken bones and suspected internal injuries after he was run over by a tractor on an orchard in the Bay of Plenty yesterday.
Emergency services were called to Furze kiwifruit orchard in Paengaroa about 5.30pm, Maketu fire chief Shane Beach said.
The victim was trapped under the rear wheels and back of the hydraulic system and was still conscious when they arrived.
Other members of the picking gang helped lift the teen out, he said.
Te Puke police Senior Sergeant Deidre Lack said the teen was hit when the tractor driver lost control.
The orchard owner did not return calls today.
About 2700 kiwifruit orchards are harvested during the season from mid-March until the end of May.
Accidents on orchards were rare and the long-time safety procedures in place ``work very well'', said NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc chief executive Mike Chapman.
"Thankfully [accidents are] not that common at all, which is very good.''
"I wouldn't think there's any need to change the safety procedures. We've got to put it in perspective, there're 2700 orchards and only one accident this season,'' he said.
There were no age restrictions for pickers, who got on-the-job training including a safety briefing, said Mr Chapman.
Training usually took about half a day.
Orchards were also audited throughout the picking season to check safety, procedures and quality of the fruit, he said.
When picking fruit, workers usually picked it into bags, which were emptied into bins and a tractor then transported the bins to the packhouse.
There was a similar incident in the region last year when a man was run over by a tractor, said Mr Beach.
The Department of Labour is investigating the latest incident, which could take up to six months, said a spokeswoman.
Three people have been killed in agriculture incidents this year.