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Worker Loses Fingers at Fletcher Steel Plant

Worker Loses Fingers at Fletcher Steel Plant

Fletcher Steel Limited has today been fined $55,500 following an accident on 10 March this year where an employee was seriously injured.

The accident occurred at the Fletcher’s Diamond division in Waiwhakaiho, New Plymouth. The employee was working with a colleague on a heavy weight folder machine, which folds sheet metal when his left hand got caught in the machine. His hand was crushed and he lost three of his fingers.

“Even though the company did identify the risk of hands or fingers getting caught in the machine as a potential hazard it was not enough to protect its employees from harm,” says Department of Labour New Plymouth Service Manager, Jo Pugh.

“The accident could have been avoided if the machine was adequately guarded. The machine is guarded by a time-out feature that requires two people to operate the machine almost simultaneously otherwise it won’t work. The manufacturer’s recommended time-out is between 0.75 of a second and one second but Fletcher allowed this to be set at 60 seconds.

“The machine could also have been fitted with a photoelectric safety device that stops the machine if a light beam is broken.

“The Department is unfortunately seeing too many workplace accidents because machines are not properly guarded. It is one of the most basic ways to ensure that people don’t get hurt or loose their lives at work and companies should take this safety measure seriously,” Ms Pugh says.

“Because of the high number of serious harm and fatal injuries caused by the unsafe use of machinery, the Department has started a three-year project focusing on machine guarding standards.

“Health and safety inspectors will be looking at whether effective procedures and systems are in place around machinery to ensure a safe environment.”

Since the accident Fletcher Steel Limited has installed the photoelectric safety guarding to the machine.

ENDS

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