Meat works employee maimed by hoof machine
Meat works company Riverlands Eltham Limited has been fined $57,949 and ordered to pay reparations of $15,000 after a worker’s left hand was caught and trapped in a machine. The employee’s hand was crushed and lacerated, leading to surgery and a five-day stay in hospital. The employee suffers ongoing pain and acute carpal tunnel syndrome.
Riverlands Eltham Limited was sentenced on Friday in the New Plymouth District Court under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee.
The employee was originally employed to scan ear tags. But on 3 December 2013, the 17-year-old employee was on his third shift and operating a hoof nail removal machine unsupervised. He had not been adequately trained on this machine even though other staff had had extensive training.
While he was cleaning the machine he accidentally activated a foot pedal and his hand was drawn into the machine. The emergency stop was not easily accessible and he had to reach around with his right arm to push it. He then had to get his hand out himself as he couldn’t get help.
After the incident the employee was driven to an after-hours medical centre instead of an ambulance being called. He then sat at the medical centre for 40 minutes without pain relief.
WorkSafe New Zealand’s Chief Inspector Investigations, Keith Stewart, says this is Riverlands’ third prosecution for a serious harm incident relating to injuries caused by machinery. “This machine came with a hazard report that specified how placing hands in the rollers was a risk. The rollers remove nails from beef hocks by gripping and ripping nails from the hoof,” says Keith Stewart. “Riverlands’ own internal hazard and risk assessments noted that the rotors of the machine were an issue and could cause ‘laceration/bruising/crushes’.
“Riverlands’ should have eliminated the hazards by guarding the machine and adequately training and supervising all staff. The employee had neither so he now has to live with a life-long injury due to Riverlands’ failings.”