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Fine follows wood chipper incident

21 December 2012

Fine follows wood chipper incident

Timber processing company Carter Holt Harvey Limited has been fined $44,000 and ordered to pay $20,000 in reparation after a contractor lost four fingers in a wood chipper.

The Whangarei District Court heard that the man had been working at the company’s Marsden Point timber processing plant, changing blades in the chipper. As he cleaned off dust and debris with a compressed air device, the drum holding the blades he was intending to replace was still rotating. The rotating drum came into contact with the air hose he was holding and dragged his right hand into the machine, amputating four fingers.

“Wood chippers are potentially extremely dangerous machines, so any sort of maintenance or exposure to the working parts has to be carried out in accordance with the agreed operating procedures and the manufacturer’s operating instructions. On this occasion, this did not happen,” says MBIE Health and Safety Northern Division General Manager, John Howard.

“An interlock device would have prevented this accident by stopping the chipper hood from being opened to expose the blades when the drum was still rotating.

“Even though the principles of machine guarding are well known, people are still seriously injured and killed because machines are poorly guarded or not guarded at all. It is essential that all those with duties under the Health and Safety in Employment Act understand the hazards associated with the use of machinery in the workplace. Information and guidance material is available on the Ministry’s website.

“There are very clear and long-standing principles around safe machine guarding and all the relevant information is freely available online at”

Carter Holt Harvey Limited was charged under sections 18(1)(a) and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.


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