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Orchardist fined after employee dies while using home-made buggy at work
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Orchardist fined after employee dies while using home-made buggy at work

4 June 2015

Hastings orchardist Hamish Gregory Campbell has been fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $50,000 reparation after a 17-year-old employee was killed after colliding with a row of apple tress while driving a home-built motorised buggy.

Hamish Gregory Campbell was sentenced today in the Hastings District Court under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees.

On 10 December 2013, the employee was tasked with laying reflective paper in between rows of apple trees on the buggy to speed up the ripening process.

A few hours later, when returning the buggy to the shed, he sustained the fatal injuries.

WorkSafe’s investigation uncovered a number of health and safety failings. The buggy was designed and built from a Subaru Brumby vehicle with a home-made chassis. Even at its slowest travel speed it travelled too fast and its steering column was installed skewed to the centre of the chassis. The seating position was insecure, there were no mudguards or fenders, the brakes were defective, the drive train covers and battery were loose, and the fuel tank was not properly connected.

“Apart from the buggy not being fit for purpose as an orchard utility vehicle, Mr Campbell failed to establish whether his employee had experience driving manual vehicles,” says Keith Stewart, WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector. “He also failed to give him enough instruction, training and supervision for the buggy, failed to complete a hazard assessment of the buggy and failed to provide a safe piece of equipment that was designed and fit for purpose.”

Mr Campbell also failed to take practicable steps to minimise risk when designing the buggy, and failed to develop a system for identifying hazards and effectively communicating the hazards to employees.

“The employee had been on the job for five days when he was fatally injured. It was up to Mr Campbell to keep his employee safe at work – he failed this task miserably.”

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