Winery pleads guilty in quad-bike fall case

16:00, Mar 06 2013

A Hawke's Bay winery has admitted it did not properly protect a worker who broke his arm while harvesting grapes.

Craggy Range Vineyards pleaded guilty this week to failing to take all practicable steps to ensure contractor Luke Crawford was not harmed while picking grapes in Martinborough last year.

Crawford, who works for TJ Contracting, fell off the back of a quad bike at the company's Te Muna Rd vineyard at the end of the harvest on May 10.

His boss, Joanne Fox, said he was a passenger on the quad, which was transporting crates of grapes to be processed at another part of the vineyard.

The prosecution was brought under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, after an investigation by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The company pleaded guilty in Masterton District Court on Monday, and is liable to a fine of up to $250,000 when it is sentenced in May.

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Fox said the person driving the quad bike was employed by another company.

The incident was "pretty minor" and neither she nor Crawford was aware the matter was before the courts, she said.

While Craggy Range's headquarters are in Hawke's Bay, it owns 95 hectares of land near Martinborough. There it grows mainly pinot noir and sauvignon blanc grapes, with smaller amounts of chardonnay and riesling.

A ministry spokesman said that, although Craggy Range had pleaded guilty to the charge, the company had indicated it might dispute the ministry's version of events.

Craggy Range did not return calls yesterday.

The Dominion Post