Electrocution of orchard worker brings call for better safety in horticulture sector

Growers are being reminded about good management practices.
Growers are being reminded about good management practices. Photo credit: Newshub

Awareness of the risks of power lines is being ramped up in the horticulture sector after the fatal electrocution of an orchard worker in Hawke's Bay this year.

The 57-year-old died while working on an orchard at Meeanee when he came into contact with the Unison overhead 33kV feeder (known as the Awatoto Tie).

The Napier man had been installing hail netting on an elevated platform.

HortNZ health and safety manager, Antony Heywood, said the tragedy was a stark reminder of the need to actively manage the risks associated with working around power lines. 

"Horticulture needs to put more effort into ensuring all workers get home safely," said Heywood.

In light of the incident, the Horticulture Health and Safety Council, with the support of WorkSafe, will be talking to growers about good management practices in the new year.

WorkSafe had also prepared new comprehensive and practical guidelines for growers.

Heywood said the rapid changes in the horticulture sector meant safety measures were vital.

"Technology is giving us more control over the growing environment but is also creating more risk.

"That’s why our industry’s health and safety practices must improve, so everyone goes home safely every day," he said.

Worksafe and the Coroner are investigating the death.