As harvest season begins, Wairarapa wineries are focused on workers’ health and safety, following a workshop with health and safety regulator WorkSafe New Zealand.

In January, WorkSafe hosted the inaugural practical health and safety workshop with 18 wineries from across the Wairarapa region.

The workshop, which was run by WorkSafe inspectors, looked at risks facing winery workers, including working at height, working around hazardous substances, machine guarding and slips, trips and falls.

WorkSafe says with Wairarapa wineries harvesting fruit within the next fortnight due to hotter than usual temperatures, operators and workers had to be alert.

“Anyone working at a winery needs to be vigilant when working in and around machinery on a day-to-day basis and understand the critical risks associated with various tasks,” says Julie–Ann Mail, Manufacturing Engagement Lead for WorkSafe.

“Most of these wineries are small and hire seasonal workers, so it is important that operators take a lead when it comes to their workers’ health and safety. With harvesting season just around the corner, WorkSafe will be visiting wineries and vineyards right across the region over the coming months to make sure operators are meeting health and safety expectations.”

Paul Mason from Wairarapa’s Martinborough Vineyard, said the workshop helped winemakers identify potential risks and hazards faced by workers every day.

“The main issues we face in wineries are around working at heights, using carbon dioxide in confined spaces and machine guarding,” says Mr Mason. “At the workshop we focused on these topics with groups spending time observing each risk and learning ways to avoid harm.”

Mr Mason is part of the Wairarapa Winegrowers Association – a group made up of winery and vineyard owners in the region.

“We felt it would be best to run a pre-harvest practical based workshop looking at the key areas of workplace health and safety that wineries our size face.

“It was an ideal time for us to do this as we are shortly approaching our busy harvest season and this is when historically most of our accidents occur. We have a responsibility to all our staff to provide a safe working environment,” Mr Mason says.

“It’s our responsibility to train them in how to use winery equipment in a safe and appropriate manner so accidents don’t happen. It’s great to work collaboratively with WorkSafe in a proactive manner, rather than waiting for an incident to happen.”

It is hoped the workshops will now be held annually. 

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