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On Saturday 17th February a worker died after becoming trapped in a potato harvester near Pukekohe. The accident happened at a potato farm near Puni, Waikato.
CEO of Potatoes New Zealand Inc., Chris Claridge, said the accident was a real tragedy.
“Any death is a tragedy. Worker health and safety is a prime concern for the entire potato industry. Potatoes NZ will endeavour to assist with inquiries however we can.”
Potatoes NZ Chairperson Stuart Wright commented “Health and Safety is of the utmost importance. As an industry, we need to work harder to minimise any risk and if possible eliminate the possibility of this happening again. Our thoughts and support are extended to everyone at this difficult time.
Harvesters are extremely dangerous pieces of machinery, which need to be managed well to protect our workers. Potatoes NZ urge growers throughout New Zealand to stop and look at what can be done to ensure the likes of this accident does not occur to another worker.
Potatoes NZ is committed to taking a proactive approach to health and safety, working with WorkSafe to deliver potato industry specific workshops in Rakaia, Winchester, Pukekohe, Shannon and Ohakune, during August and September last year.
These workshops will be run again in August this year (2018).
The workshops covered the major requirements of the Health & Safety at Work Act. Attendees learnt how to process-map for risks on their own farms; learnt about WorkSafe assessments and encouraged improved health and safety cultures on farm.
WorkSafe’s Agricultural Sector Lead Al McCone said:
“Nearly 90% of all fatalities in the agriculture sector occur in and around vehicles and machinery. Agricultural businesses need to view these as critical risks, and work hard to eliminate the risk or where that is not possible, put in place other actions that protect workers from harm. As we approach harvest across a number of sectors, businesses should be ensuring machinery and vehicles are safe to use, and that workers are properly trained to use them.
Even the best trained people make mistakes, so making vehicles and machinery safe doesn’t mean relying on worker ‘common sense’, it means making sure it is physically impossible for the harm to occur through guarding, restraints and safety equipment”.