Family of man killed by machine to get $85k

A Taranaki agriculture firm will pay $85,000 to the family of a worker killed by a potato harvesting machine.

But Easton Agriculture, which today was sentenced for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act in the Palmerston North District Court, will not pay a fine. The reason why is suppressed, according to Worksafe.

Had a fine been payable, Worksafe says a penalty of $330,000 would have been imposed.

A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found that the Palmerston North-based agriculture business in Shannon had no guarding around its potato harvesting machine, and that a guarding could have saved the employee's life.

WorkSafe deputy general manager of investigations and specialist services Simon Humphries said the death was a reminder that machines in the workplace can be fatal.

"This fatality is a sombre reminder that some of the machines we work with have the potential to kill us. When it comes to big pieces of machinery, there are no second chances. Limbs and lives are lost," Humphries said.

He urged businesses to be proactive and to mitigate any risks associated with workplace machinery.

"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".

A spokesman for Easton Agriculture said it had no comment to make following judges comment at the hearing.

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