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Worker loses fingertip in preventable accident

15 August 2013

Worker loses fingertip in preventable accident

A packaging accident in November last year in which a worker lost the tip of one finger and had another surgically repaired has cost her employer a fine of $20,000 and reparations of $5000.

Baylor Ltd of Mt Wellington had previously pleaded guilty to one charge (Section 6) under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and was sentenced in the Auckland District Court today.

The victim was working on a machine that heat sealed sachets of dishwashing granules. She was adjusting the material to be sealed when her right hand index and middle fingers became trapped between the heat sealing jaws of the machine. Her index finger was severed at the nail and could not be re-attached. Her partially severed her middle finger was able to be repaired.

“The worker spent eight days in hospital as a result of the company’s failure to protect her at work,” the Health and Safety group’s Chief Inspector Investigations Keith Stewart said.

“This incident was preventable - the company should have had a guard around the heat sealing jaws and the guard should have had an interlock device on it which would have ensured it could not operate while the guard was open.

“They’ve now installed the correct equipment, but it comes too late for a worker who should have been able to expect she’d be able to go home at the end of her shift, not to the hospital in an ambulance,” Mr Stewart said.

Section 6, Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 – maximum fine $250,000

Employers to ensure safety of employees
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—
• in their place of work; or
• 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.

ENDS

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