Adequate machine guarding is a must
Nelson Pine Industries Limited has been fined $45,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $10,000 after one of its workers was injured while trying to clear a log jam on a conveyor belt by hand.
The worker was trying to clear a log jam in August 2014 when he was struck by a ‘log kicker’, which is a mechanised metal plate used to automatically kick logs off a conveyor belt. He spent six days in hospital after suffering a serious laceration to his left arm as well as nerve, tendon and muscle damage. It is likely full recovery will take around 2 years.
The man did not usually work in the Green Waste Area of Nelson Pine’s factory. He had been told to clear log jams using a metal hook, but found the hook ineffective and saw other workers doing it by hand.
Nelson Pine was sentenced today in the Nelson District Court under sections 6 and 50 (1) (a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee while at work.
A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found that the company had failed to identify the hazard of workers accessing the gap between the log kicker and the conveyor belt and had not properly guarded the machine to prevent access to the kicker while it was in operation.
The conveyor had also been altered on the day of the incident to try and reduce the number of log jams but had not been tested before work resumed. The company should also have ensured the worker was fully trained or supervised while working in an area he was not familiar with.
WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart, says the log kicker was clearly a hazard and should have been isolated to protect workers from exactly this sort of incident.
“Keeping workers well away from dangerous machinery while it is in operation is the best way to prevent these sorts of incidents. Adequate machine guarding is not optional – it’s a must,” says Keith Stewart.