Why seasonal workers are at higher risk

The Increased Vulnerability of Seasonal Workers to Various Risks


A teenage worker suffered a life-altering accident when his summer job took a terrifying turn. Matthew Nevill, just 19 at the time, was attempting to fix a chain on a conveyor belt at Clyde Orchards in February 2021 when his hands were pulled into the machine. The incident resulted in two fractured fingers on his left hand and required surgery to partially amputate three fingers on his right hand. A subsequent investigation by WorkSafe found that poor safeguarding of the machinery and an inadequate risk assessment played a significant role in the accident. This tragic incident highlights the importance of prioritizing the health and safety of all workers, including seasonal employees. Read more about this case and the safe use of machinery on WorkSafe’s website.

Full Article: The Increased Vulnerability of Seasonal Workers to Various Risks

A Teenage Worker Suffers Partial Finger Amputation in Workplace Accident

A summer job turned into a nightmare for Matthew Nevill, a 19-year-old worker who suffered a traumatic accident resulting in partial finger amputation. The incident occurred at Clyde Orchards in February 2021 while Nevill was attempting to fix a chain on a conveyor belt. Unfortunately, his hands were drawn into the machine, causing severe injuries to his left hand and requiring surgery to partially amputate three fingers on his right hand.

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Safety Failures Lead to Sentencing of Clyde Orchards

The Alexandra District Court has recently delivered a verdict on the health and safety failures that contributed to the incident. Clyde Orchards (1990) Limited, the company responsible for Nevill’s workplace, has been sentenced for its negligence in safeguarding its machinery and conducting proper risk assessments.

A thorough investigation conducted by WorkSafe revealed that the machinery involved in the accident lacked adequate safety measures to prevent such incidents. The absence of lockouts to isolate and de-energize potentially harmful machinery parts further added to the risk faced by workers. As a result, the conveyor belt in question has been decommissioned to ensure the safety of future employees.

WorkSafe Stresses the Importance of Protecting Seasonal Workers

Steve Kelly, the area investigation manager at WorkSafe, expressed concern over the significant injuries suffered by Nevill. He emphasized that seasonal workers, like permanent employees, deserve equal protection in the workplace. Kelly stated that the shortcomings identified in this case are unacceptable, especially considering the higher risk of harm faced by workers in seasonal industries.

WorkSafe is continuously committed to holding manufacturers accountable for their failure to meet health and safety responsibilities. Kelly reiterated the importance of managing risks, particularly in seasonal work environments such as harvest seasons, to prioritize the well-being and safety of workers.

Read more about the safe use of machinery

Read more about WorkSafe prosecutions

Case Details:

  • Clyde Orchards (1990) Limited received its sentence from the Alexandra District Court on September 1, 2023.
  • The company has been fined $225,000 and ordered to pay reparations totaling $37,465.
  • Clyde Orchards was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, which outlines the duty of a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking) to ensure the health and safety of workers while they are on the job. The failure to comply with this duty resulted in exposing workers to a risk of serious injury.
  • The maximum penalty for such offenses is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.
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Summary: The Increased Vulnerability of Seasonal Workers to Various Risks

A teenage worker suffered a serious injury while working at Clyde Orchards in New Zealand. The 19-year-old worker’s fingers were partially amputated when they got caught in a conveyor belt while trying to fix a chain. An investigation by WorkSafe found that the company had failed to provide proper safeguards for the machinery and had not conducted a sufficient risk assessment. Clyde Orchards has now been sentenced and fined $225,000 for its health and safety failures. WorkSafe emphasizes the importance of protecting seasonal workers and holding manufacturers accountable for their health and safety responsibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why are seasonal workers at higher risk?

Seasonal workers are at higher risk due to a variety of reasons:

1. Lack of Experience

Seasonal workers often have limited experience in their job roles. As a result, they may not be adequately trained or prepared to handle potential hazards or risks that may arise during their temporary employment.

2. Limited Safety Training

Many employers may prioritize providing safety training to permanent staff members, neglecting the essential training required for seasonal workers. This lack of safety training can increase the likelihood of accidents or injuries occurring in the workplace.

3. High Staff Turnover

Seasonal jobs often attract a large number of workers who are seeking temporary employment. High staff turnover rates can mean that safety protocols and instructions may not always be effectively communicated or followed, leading to an increased risk of accidents.

4. Time Pressure

Due to the nature of seasonal work, there is often a high demand to complete tasks quickly. This time pressure can result in shortcuts being taken, increasing the chances of accidents occurring due to lack of attention to detail or rushing to complete tasks.

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5. Lack of Familiarity with the Work Environment

As temporary workers, seasonal employees may be less familiar with the specific work environment, including potential hazards and safety measures in place. This lack of familiarity can contribute to a higher risk of accidents or injuries.

6. Inadequate Access to Resources

Seasonal workers may not have the same access to resources and support systems that are available to permanent employees. They may lack proper equipment, safety gear, or relevant information necessary to mitigate risks, further increasing their vulnerability.

What can be done to mitigate the risks for seasonal workers?

Several measures can be taken to mitigate the risks faced by seasonal workers:

1. Comprehensive Safety Training

Employers should provide thorough safety training to all workers, including seasonal employees, before they start their job. This training should cover potential risks, hazard identification, proper use of equipment, and emergency procedures.

2. Adequate Supervision

Ensuring sufficient supervision for seasonal workers can help monitor their activities and address any concerns or potential risks promptly. Supervisors should be readily available to guide and support workers throughout their temporary employment.

3. Clear Communication

Effective communication is crucial to ensure that seasonal workers understand their tasks, safety protocols, and any changes in processes or procedures. Regular communication channels should be established to address any questions or concerns that may arise.

4. Regular Safety Inspections

Regular safety inspections should be conducted to identify and address any potential hazards or risks in the work environment. This includes ensuring that proper safety equipment is available and in good working condition.

5. Access to Resources

Employers should provide seasonal workers with the necessary resources, including safety gear, equipment, and relevant information, to ensure their safety. Adequate access to resources will help mitigate risks and empower workers to prioritize their own safety.

6. Evaluation and Improvement

Regular evaluation of safety measures and procedures is essential to identify areas for improvement. Employers should gather feedback from both permanent and seasonal workers to enhance safety protocols and address any emerging risks.

By taking these steps, employers can significantly reduce the risks faced by seasonal workers and create a safer working environment for all employees.

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