Aluminium company to pay 48K after employee burnt at work
McKechnie Aluminium Solutions Limited has been fined $33,000 and ordered to pay $15,000 in reparation after an explosion caused serious burns to an employee’s foot, and superficial burns to his left hand, arm, chest and head.
The aluminium casting and manufacturing company was sentenced in the New Plymouth District Court today after pleading guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee.
The employee worked in the foundry department which makes aluminium logs. In the early morning of the incident he was working at the casting table where molten aluminium - which can reach temperatures in excess of 700°C - is poured into moulds and eventually made into five metre long logs. The employee heard a hissing sound which he went to investigate. As he prepared to prod the mould with a steel rod, an explosion occurred causing the burns.
The employee did not seek immediate medical attention. About a week after the incident he went to see a doctor and was referred to a plastic surgeon. He had skin graft surgery to his left foot and spent a week in hospital. He then started physiotherapy so he could be more mobile. Two months later, he was referred to his GP for further care.
“A combination of high temperatures, molten aluminium and water is inherently dangerous,” says Keith Stewart, WorkSafe Chief Inspector. “McKechnie Aluminium Solutions Limited employees were also not properly trained, or monitored by the employer. If they had been, high-risk practices like leaning over a casting table of such high temperatures would not have occurred. They also didn’t have all the primary and secondary protective equipment that is available to keep employees safe.”
“All these factors make up a potent mix of risk and should have been properly managed.”