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Company Fined After Worker Loses Three Fingers

A company’s failure to appropriately manage risk and identify safe work methods and controls in the workplace has ended with a worker losing three fingers.

Canterbury Concrete Cutting NZ Limited was fined $229,921 at the Christchurch District Court today after an incident in April 2018.

“Their employee was cutting alone in a manhole with a concrete saw when he slipped in ankle-deep water and the blade kicked-out, amputating three fingers on his right hand,” WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector Steve Kelly said.

Mr Kelly said unfortunately the worker’s fingers were unable to be re-attached.

“The circumstances of this injury were absolutely preventable and any employer carrying out work in this kind of environment should be well aware of the risks.

“Preventing workers from sustaining serious injury relies on making a risk assessment and ensuring there are appropriate safety controls and emergency procedures in place.

The worker was left to work alone in the manhole, which was at another site, Mr Kelly said.

“This incident also highlights the importance of consulting, cooperating and coordinating with other businesses involved on a job.

“I ask employers and workers to consider the long term impact of losing three fingers. This worker has suffered injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life.”

Notes:

- A fine of $229,921 was imposed

- Reparation of $23,400 was ordered

- Canterbury Concrete Cutting NZ Limited was sentenced under sections 48(1), 48(2)(c) and 36(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

- Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health and safety of a worker who works for the PCBU, while the worker was at work in the business or undertaking, namely while operating a saw in a manhole, did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed the worker to a risk of death or serious injury arising from hazards associated with suing the saw.

- S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.

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