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Company fined $10,000 after fingers amputated

Company fined $10,000 after worker's fingers amputated

A Lower Hutt company has been fined $10,000 after a worker had two of his fingers amputated following a workplace accident.

Precision Ltd was sentenced today at the Wellington District Court by Judge Walker after being prosecuted by the Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH).

The prosecution comes after an accident last year where three of a worker's fingers were crushed in a punch and forming press. All of the fine went to the victim.

"New Zealanders being injured and killed at work is simply unacceptable. In this case, two of the worker's fingers had to be amputated," said Madeleine Setchell, OSH spokeswoman.

"Following this accident an OSH inspector issued 10 prohibition notices requiring that adequate guarding be fitted for 10 different punch and forming presses, including the one on which the victim had his accident."

The Court took into account the company had given some financial support to the victim.

However, the judge indicated that a factor to which he gave particular weight was that the company had identified the hazard of unguarded small presses in 1997 and had guarded them at the time, but had let the guarding fall into disuse since that time.

He also noted that the loss of fingers to manual workers has considerable long-term effects.

The practicable steps the company should have taken were to ensure the press was adequately guarded and they should have trained the worker about the hazards of operating unguarded presses and the need for them to be guarded.

"Identifying unguarded machinery and then failing to guard it is simply unacceptable," said Miss Setchell.

"Everyone has the right to go to work and be safe. Companies must ensure that workplace hazards are identified and controlled correctly, and that their safety systems are constantly reviewed and updated."


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