Fonterra to pay $62,500 for finger amputation
Dairy company Fonterra has been fined $50,000 and ordered to pay $12,500 in reparation to an employee who had part of a finger amputated by a cheese packaging machine that Fonterra had twice been advised needed better guarding.
The accident, at Fonterra’s Eltham cheese processing factory in April 2011, happened when the female worker cleared a jam in the machine. Unaware the machine was set to reactivate, she put her arm in to clear wrapping from clamps when they closed on her middle finger and amputated the tip.
The fine and reparation was ordered today by the Hawera District Court.
Department of Labour (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) Central Region General Manager Ona de Rooy says Fonterra had plenty of opportunity to prevent the accident.
“In the previous two years internal and external hazard reviews had noted the danger of the unguarded sides of the two wrapping machines. They estimated a cost of $500 each to make them safe,” Ms De Rooy says.
“However Fonterra did nothing about it and said that, when the accident happened, it was working on other hazards identified by the review.
“This machine did not meet either Fonterra’s own machine guarding standards or the Department of Labour (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) machine guarding guidelines.
“As a result, the worker required surgery and further amputation of the finger from a hazard that was not expensive to fix.”
The Department has a project under way to help reduce the number and severity of machinery-related accidents.
The Safe Use of Machinery project is now into its second year and involves inspectors talking to employers about machine guarding and reminding them of their responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 to keep their employees safe while at work.
In the first year of the project inspectors visited more than 1400 workplaces to talk with employers and increase their awareness of machine guarding.
Notes to Editor
- Fonterra was convicted on one charge under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
- 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.