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Taranaki company fined $60,000 after employee seriously injured by sawmill
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Taranaki company fined $60,000 after employee seriously injured by sawmill

6 July 2012

Brian Crawford Contracting Limited has been fined $60,000 and ordered to pay $50,000 in reparation to an employee who had a leg amputated in an accident with a portable sawmill in September last year.

The accident occurred at the company’s yard near Opunake when the employee was “jump-starting” the sawmill with leads connected to the battery of a tractor. When the employee reached up to disconnect the jumper leads, his overalls were caught by the cutting blade and his legs were pulled into the blade.

His right leg was amputated at the upper thigh in the accident and he required major reconstructive surgery on the upper thigh of his left leg.

“This accident could have been prevented if Brian Crawford Contracting had taken some simple steps to ensure the machine was set up safely, well maintained and that safe operating procedures were followed by employees working on the sawmill,” says Ona De Rooy, head of workplace health and safety in the Central Region for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

“This is a tragic example of a preventable injury occurring in a workplace. The lack of adequate safety procedures remains a significant cause of workplace death and injury. This accident happened because the employer put a temporary fix in place that required employees to put themselves in harm’s way. It’s not good enough,” she says.

The Ministry has a project underway 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.

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