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Grain silo operator fined for worker injury

Media release

20 August 2013

Grain silo operator fined for worker injury

A worker who was seriously injured in a grain silo accident in October last year has been awarded $26,000 in emotional harm reparations and his employer, NZ Starch Ltd of Onehunga, fined $35,000.

The company had already paid nearly $20,000 to the victim.

NZ Starch had previously pleaded guilty to one charge (Section 6) under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and was sentenced at the Manukau District Court today.

The victim was asked by his supervisor to sweep remaining grain from a silo before a new delivery.  The silo contains a sweep auger which operates when gravity no longer forces the grain out of the silo, but which leaves a 10 centimetre residue of grain that has to be swept out by hand.

The victim knew he was supposed to turn off the auger before entering the silo, but had been shown by a supervisor how to slow the auger and sweep out the silo when it was operating at slow speed.  This method was not authorised by NZ Starch.

He fell into the moving auger blades suffering a head injury, fractures to his right arm, right lower leg, right eye socket and jaw as well as broken tendons in one leg and extensive bruising.

“The victim did not comply with company procedures, but the company had not isolated the hazard by installing an interlock which would have locked the silo access door while the auger was still active,” the Chief Inspector Investigations for the Health and Safety group Keith Stewart said.

“This would have ensured workers could not over-ride company instructions by slowing the auger and working in a dangerous environment,” Mr Stewart said.

ENDS

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