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Child Safety at Workplaces: WorkSafe Issues Cautionary Reminder


WorkSafe, the government agency responsible for workplace safety in New Zealand, has issued a cautionary reminder after a five-year-old child was struck by a forklift at a Hawke’s Bay orchard. The incident occurred in January 2022 when the child was brought to the orchard by his grandparents, who worked there, due to a lack of childcare options. Despite being instructed to stay inside the packhouse, the child wandered into the path of a reversing forklift driven by a 14-year-old worker. The child survived but suffered complex fractures to his hip bones and required a month-long hospitalization.

The Importance of Child Safety at Workplaces:

WorkSafe’s investigation revealed several health and safety failures in this incident. The victim was under limited supervision as the caregivers were occupied with their work. The forklift involved was poorly maintained and lacked basic safety features such as reversing lights, mirrors, flashing lights, or a horn. Additionally, the driver was underage, and the orchard had no written traffic management plan for forklift use.

Implications and Legal Actions:

The orchard owner has been sentenced for health and safety failures. The business, Kylie and Simon Halford Partnership, was charged under sections 36(2), 48(1), and 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. The court imposed a fine of $7,000 and ordered reparations of $25,000. It is important for businesses to understand their duty of care towards others, especially children, and ensure that their workplaces are safe for everyone.

Preventing Incidents: Practical Tips and Advice:

WorkSafe emphasizes the need for proper risk management and safety measures in workplaces, particularly when it comes to children. Here are some practical tips to ensure child safety in the workplace:

1. No Childcare at Worksites:

Worksites are not appropriate places for childcare. Employers should establish clear policies prohibiting children from being present during operating hours.

2. Supervision:

Ensure that children are under constant and appropriate supervision. Caregivers should not be excessively occupied with work tasks, neglecting their duty to supervise children.

3. Vehicle Safety:

Maintain vehicles and equipment used in the workplace, such as forklifts, with proper safety features. This includes reversing lights, mirrors, flashing lights, and a horn to alert others.

4. Age Restrictions:

Workers under the age of 18 should not be allowed to operate vehicles or machinery on worksites. Employers must verify the age of workers and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

5. Communication and Language Barriers:

If language barriers exist among workers, it is crucial to provide safety information in their native language. Translating safety instructions and guidelines can greatly enhance workplace safety.

6. Traffic Management:

Implement effective traffic management measures, such as exclusion zones to separate vehicles from people, the use of barriers during forklift operations, clear signage, and separate entry and exit points for people and vehicles.

7. Regular Training and Education:

Conduct regular training sessions and educational programs to raise awareness about workplace safety, including child safety. Ensure that all employees, including younger workers, are aware of the risks and safety protocols.


The incident involving a child being struck by a forklift at a Hawke’s Bay orchard serves as a reminder of the importance of child safety at workplaces. Employers must prioritize the well-being of all individuals present on their premises, especially children. Implementing proper risk management strategies, maintaining equipment safety, and ensuring effective communication can prevent such incidents from occurring. By following these practical tips and advice, businesses can create safer work environments for everyone.

Read the full article on WorkSafe’s official website:
Child struck by teen forklift driver

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