Man left tetraplegic by work incident wins $300k

1:01 pm on 22 May 2017

A man who was left tetraplegic from being hit on the neck by a pumpkin harvester he was unloading, unassisted, from a truck has won more than $330,000 in compensation.


Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

In March last year, a worker for Wai Shing Ltd, a commercial vegetable growing business based in Auckland's Pukekohe, was struck on the back of the neck by a harvester used to collect pumpkin and squash as he unloaded it from a truck.

He lay undiscovered and unable to move for several hours and was left paralysed from the neck down, requiring 24-hour care.

WorkSafe General Manager of Operations and Specialist Services Brett Murray said the man was not trained properly to use or transport the harvester, and the company had no emergency plan if someone was injured when working alone.

"Wai Shing Ltd hadn't followed basic health and safety management practices such as understanding and managing risks associated with using the harvester, despite using it since 1996," he said.

The company was also charged for failing to tell WorkSafe about the incident, disturbing the scene, and continuing to use the harvester afterwards.

Worksafe says it failed to mention the incident when an inspector visited on an unrelated matter two weeks later and they were only told by the victim's wife six months later.

At the Pukekohe District Court today the company and its director Franklin Wai Shing were fined $50,000 and ordered to pay the man $336,300 in reparation.