Gore farm machinery company fined

Gore District Court
Kavinda Herath
Gore District Court

A Gore farm machinery company's lack of effective repairs to a tractor has resulted in a substantial fine and reparations to an injured farm worker.

Agricentre South Limited was fined $239,063 after brakes on a tractor serviced and supplied by the business failed and ran over a worker.

The maximum penalty is a fine up to $1,500,000.

Reparations of $103,459 had already been awarded to the victim in April 2018.

* Agricentre South appeals $30,000 reparation payment in tractor negligence case
* Woman left with horrific injuries after being run over by tractor

The company was sentenced in the Gore District Court on Friday.

In a press release after the sentencing, WorkSafe head of specialist interventions Simon Humphries said the brakes on the second hand tractor were not working when it was first purchased by Agricentre South in 2015. 

Some diagnostic work and repairs had been completed when the tractor was delivered to a property for a trial in April 2016, Humphries said. The farm owner identified further issues with the tractor, including its brakes, and Agricentre South attempted to fix the issue on-farm, he said.

Five days into the trial, the brakes failed, and the tractor ran over a worker leaving her with fractured vertebra, fractures to her arm and injuries to both legs. The farm owner who was driving the tractor escaped the incident unharmed.

WorkSafe's investigation found that Agricentre South had failed to ensure the tractor's repair history was communicated between staff, failed to ensure the tractor had fully operational brakes, and that wires for the warning lights were reconnected and working after repairing the brakes.

Humphries said the vehicle service industry, including the servicing of farm machinery, needs exceptional diligence to ensure the safety of the end users of vehicles and plant. 

"Working brakes are the difference between life and death – on the road and in the workplace."