Foley Wines fined $30,000 over broken arm

A wine company owned by US billionaire Bill Foley has been fined NZ$30,000 after a worker broke his arm at one of its New Zealand vineyards.

Bill Foley

Bill Foley

Foley Family Wines Ltd, majority-owned by Foley, was sentenced yesterday after pleading guilty to failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Te Kairanga vineyard worker Chris Kokiri, according to a report in the Marlborough Express.

Kokiri was winding bird netting off vines and feeding it onto a mechanical spindle on 23 April last year when a velcro tag on his jacket was caught and pulled his left arm into the spindle.

He suffered a “nasty injury” including two broken bones and damaged tendons, and needed skin grafts, Judge Thomas Broadmore told the court, an injury he said could have been avoided if the company had properly checked safety procedures at the Martinborough vineyard before taking it over.

Angela Graham, a lawyer representing the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said the company should have done more to protect workers as the machine’s operating manual made it “pretty obvious” it could be hazardous to workers without proper safety procedures.

Lawyer Christie Hall said that Foley Family Wines had taken reasonable steps to “isolate” employees from risks involved with the netting work.

Judge Broadmore said the company’s fault was in not completing a full-scale review of Te Kairanga’s health and safety procedures after it took over the vineyard in 2011.

Judge Broadmore fined the company $30,000 and ordered it to pay Mr Kokiri $12,000 in compensation.

Foley Family Wines chief executive Mark Turnbull said the company acknowledged the judge’s comments and that a preliminary health and safety assessment would be a positive step.

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