14 Feb 2013

Farmers told to act on legal responsibilities to employees

10:34 am on 14 February 2013

A Christchurch-based employment law specialist says farmers need to not only know their legal responsibilities when it comes to employees, but ensure they put the knowledge into practice.

Scott Wilson says several recent serious accidents involving quad bikes, including two fatalities, highlight the need for farmers and others who own ATVs to ensure the safety of all those who use them, otherwise they could be held criminally liable.

He says in rural farm environments an employer - which is often a farmer - are required to provide and maintain a safe workplace. This extends to a general duty on hazard management.

Mr Wilson says dealing with a quad bike, particularly if it loses control, is a hazard.

He says farmers and farm workers are required to identify the hazards that may come out of that and respond accordingly.

Mr Wilson says under health and safety legislation a farmer risks a penalty of up to $250,000 if a worker is injured or killed.