Skip to Content, Skip to Navigation

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Kiwifruit: "Bloody hard work"

Kiwifruit: "Bloody hard work"
Article Type:
Publication Date:
New Zealand

That was not the last word on the kiwifruit fatality, however, with Zespri International’s global health and safety lead Angus Bell taking the floor to discuss the enforceable undertaking his organisation received for its role in the tragedy.

“The key message I’d like to articulate is that enforceable undertakings are bloody hard work,” he told the conference. “It’s a huge effort, and it shouldn’t be seen as an easy way to avoid prosecution.”

Like Brookie, Bell could not resist the urge to re-examine the Athenberry decision, noting that as a very large orchard, worth many millions of dollars, it seemed reasonably practical for it to have been providing information for people coming onto its site.

“We absolutely accept that we had a part to play, but it’s Zespri’s perspective that there were multiple parties here who had duties,” he said. “We have guidance material for our growers to help articulate our requirements, and that includes an expectation that hazards will be identified and made known to people going onto their properties.

“We didn’t follow through our obligation as well as we could have around the mandating of that information.”

As part of its EU the company has set new rules for growers covering the identification and communication of on-site hazards, created channels for samplers to report risks that are not being effectively managed, and established a stop-work procedure to ensure samplers will not continue to work on unsafe sites.

“We’re really clear that if you’re not managing your risks as an orchardist, maturity sampling is not going to happen.

“Without that you cannot sell your fruit to Zespri, so that’s a great motivator.”

Asked about the lone worker aspect of the sampler’s role, Bell said that despite Garth Gallaway’s allegations, kiwifruit farmers were vigilant about monitoring who came onto their properties. It was, however, critical that samplers worked in such a way that they could not be influenced in any way by the growers, he said, and a text message system was now used to verify the accuracy of hazard maps on the day of the sampling.

The organisation is also working to improve safety management by contractors, and to better define roles and responsibilities across the supply chain.

“We want to make sure people understand that they are PCBUs, and know what their roles and responsibilities are.”

The EU has also seen the company pay $25,000 to the daughter of the deceased sampler, support a charitable organisation she was involved with, and put money and resources into advertising campaigns to promote safe practices, industry sponsorships, a scholarship for a H&S student, and a research programme looking at appropriate vehicle use within the kiwifruit industry.

The EU also had some unexpected consequences, Bell said, with Zespri being named as a key offender by the two parties who sought to defend the charges against them.

“If you’re in a situation where there are multiple PCBUs involved and you’re considering an EU, you need to realise that you could potentially become a target for others, who will try to say: ‘It was all them – it wasn’t us.’

“This was something we hadn’t expected, but I don’t think we’d have changed what we did, had we known.”



People Mentioned:
Angus Bell
Organisations Mentioned:
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Table of Contents