Sawmill company fined $20,000 after worker trapped in unguarded machine
A Kawerau sawmill company has been ordered to pay a fine of $20,000 after one of its employees sustained multiple fractures when he became trapped in a conveyor belt.
Sequal Lumber Limited Partnership was also ordered to pay reparations of $8,000 following the accident which happened on 4 September last year.
The Whakatane District Court heard that an employee of Sequal Lumber was shovelling bark onto the conveyor belt when the accident happened.
“The employee dropped his shovel, tripped over it and fell onto the conveyor belt, trapping his right arm between the conveyer and its pulley,” says central region health and safety manager for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ona De Rooy.
The employee was seriously injured as a result. He suffered multiple fractures, including a fracture to his right arm, several broken ribs and lacerations.
“This is yet another unacceptable example of an employer failing to take the steps required to keep their workers safe on the job. All too often employees are seriously injured at work, when it is their fundamental right to go home safe at the end of their working day,” Ms De Rooy says.
“This accident could have been prevented if Sequal Lumber had put in place adequate machine guarding. We encourage all employers to familiarise themselves with the machine guarding information available on the MBIE’s website, as well as our other information on keeping safe at work,” Ms De Rooy says.
Notes to Editor
- Sequal Lumber Limited Partnership appeared in the Whakatane District Court today.
- Sequal Lumber Limited Partnership was charged with one offence under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, which 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.
- The MBIE has developed a series of factsheets to help businesses ensure their machinery is adequately guarded, and their employees are safe. These are part of the MBIE’s Safe Use Of Machinery Project – anationalinitiative that focuses on lifting the standard of machine guarding in New Zealand. Health and Safety Inspectors are focusing on raising awareness amongst employers and employees of the importance of machine guarding and checking that effective procedures and systems are in place to ensure the safe use of machinery in the workplace.