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Conveyor accident highlights importance of machine guarding

MEDIA RELEASE 6 AUGUST 2012

Kerikeri conveyor accident highlights importance of machine guarding

A Kerikeri company has been fined after an employee suffered serious harm when his foot became trapped in an unguarded conveyor. Mt Pokaka Timber Products Limited was fined $52,500 and ordered to pay reparation of $20,000 to the victim at the Kaikohe District Court on Friday 3 August.

The victim was working with a conveyor that had only been in full production two weeks before the accident. The court heard that on 10 November 2011 the victim was stationed at the end of the conveyor waiting for timber product to be fed through the de-duster machine. During a break in the flow of wood the victim rested his arms on the table and placed his right foot underneath on the channel guiding the chain. He was pulled off his feet hitting his head as he fell, and the chain took his right foot around the drive sprocket trapping his foot between the chain and the teeth of the sprocket.

The victim suffered a large penetrating laceration injury to the instep of his right foot. He was hospitalised for 17 days and continues to face ongoing treatment for his injury including skin grafts.

“Mt Pokaka Timber Products Limited had an obligation to ensure that all new machinery was subject to thorough hazard identification before beginning service and that trapping points on conveyors were appropriately guarded. The company failed to identify the trapping point between the chains and sprockets as a hazard and there were no guards to ensure the safety of employees working on or near this conveyor,” says Northern General Manager for the Labour Group of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), John Howard.

“This worker experienced injury and trauma that no person should ever be subjected to,” Mr Howard says.

“MBIE has a nationwide compliance project underway to reduce the unacceptably high level of fatal and serious harm injuries associated with the unsafe use of machinery. We expect all employers to take the minimum steps required to prevent harm to their employee – particularly where exposed machinery is concerned,” he says. “This accident could have been avoided if the company had put in place adequate machine guarding.

“We encourage all employers to familiarise themselves with the health and safety information available on MBIE’s website, particularly that about machine guarding,” Mr Howard says.

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 states: Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to—

(a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and
(b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and
(c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and
(d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—
(i) in their place of work; or
(ii) near their place of work and under the employer's control; and
(e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online: http://legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1992/0096/latest/DLM278829.html

MBIE has developed a series of factsheets to help businesses ensure their machinery is adequately guarded, and their employees are safe.

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