- The work site was a commercial avocado orchard consisting of several thousand trees.
- Hundreds of kilometres of windbreaks had been installed to protect juvenile trees.
- A windbreak consists of a top and bottom high tensile wire stapled to wooden poles, with shelter cloth attached to the wires with clips.
- Work to install, maintain, repair and remove them was referred to as fencing work.
- D had been with the company for three months as a casual worker and was under supervision by P and an experienced worker, N.
- D and N were straining wires under the supervision of P.
- A wire flicked back and scratched D under the chin.
- P strongly advised D to wear safety glasses in future but did not report the near miss.
- The near miss was mentioned at a toolbox meeting a week later.
- Two weeks later, P asked D and N to fix a loose top wire.
- P had signed out safety glasses for the two men a few days earlier but did not check they took the glasses with them for this task. D did not take the glasses.
- D and N used wire strainers to tighten the wire.
- They both let go of the wire at the same time, causing a wire to penetrate D’s left eye.
- His significant eye injury required two operations and has left him with impaired vision.
- The company’s standard induction for new workers covered fruit picking and spraying but not fencing.
- There was no SOP for fencing tasks.
- The induction mentioned PPE generally but did not refer to its use for specific tasks.
- Competency assessment and further training was on-the-job by observation of experienced staff.
- Neither P nor N had received any guidance in how to supervise or train others.
- Wearing eye protection during fencing wasn’t a requirement. It was viewed as a personal responsibility.
- D had seen others – including P and N – doing fencing without safety glasses.
- Develop an SOP for high risk tasks and ensure it is well understood.
- Develop a standard way of ensuring workers are competent in specific tasks.
- Make use of free WorkSafe resources, like its fact sheet on supervising workers and its ‘quick guide’ on protecting workers’ eyes.
- Refer to NZKGI’s Best Practice Guidelines for Workplace Safety – Protection from Eye Injury in a Kiwifruit Orchard.