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Riverlands Eltham fined for workplace injury

23 January 2014

Meat processor Riverlands Eltham Ltd has been fined $42,500 and ordered to pay reparations to a staff member of $12,500 following a workplace injury in which the staff member lost the end of his right index finger.

The company was convicted in the New Plymouth District Court at a hearing on 5 December last year on one charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of the employee while at work.

The employee had his finger caught in a conveyor while he was collecting blood from slaughtered animals. In convicting the company last year, Judge Max Courtney said that notwithstanding the victim’s action in putting his hand on the conveyor, the company did not take all practicable steps to protect him by ensuring the machine was guarded, that it had a start warning system and that it had an emergency stop button in an accessible position.

“Unfortunately, there’s a worker who has been unnecessarily injured because Riverlands Eltham had not done this work – and it is notable that on the day of the accident the company installed a guard on the machine,” Chief Inspector Investigations Keith Stewart said.

“It was too little too late for the worker.

“Relying on the old adage ‘it has not happened before’ as a justification for not taking foreseeable safety steps is proven by this case to be bad safety and business judgement,” Mr Stewart said.


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