Mapua Avocados ordered to pay more than $60,000 after man's eye permanently damaged while fixing fence

Mapua Avocados was sentenced under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Mapua Avocados was sentenced under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Photo credit: Getty Images

A Northland avocado company has been ordered to pay more than $60,000 after a trainee sustained permanent eye damage when a fence wire they were fixing snapped.

The victim, who was 20 years old at the time of the accident in 2021, required two surgeries and now has permanently impaired vision after the snapped wire struck his eye.

Employer Mapua Avocados Ltd was sentenced under the Health and Safety at Work Act, which carries a maximum $1.5 million fine sentence, at the North Shore District Court this week.

The company was fined $240,000 and ordered to pay $62,185 for reparations. However, the $240,000 fine was scrapped due to the company's "financial circumstances and its inability to pay any fine".

WorkSafe said the victim, not wearing personal protective equipment, wasn't adequately trained and workers weren't monitored for the safe use of PPE.

"The business had no formal process in place to ensure workers were wearing PPE, leaving supervisors to instead fill that gap by managing the wearing of PPE in the field."

WorkSafe said its investigation found there was also a near-miss at the company a month earlier that wasn't reported to senior management.

"Information about PPE such as eye protection and how it protects workers has been readily accessible for years now. The use of PPE is entrenched in every modern safe work practice," WorkSafe area investigation manager Danielle Henry said.

"Businesses do not meet their obligations to workers by viewing safety as optional, and workers should be wearing PPE where they are exposed to risk. Businesses are required to model and champion safe work."