Company fined after worker loses leg
Tree Scape Limited has been fined $24,750 and ordered to pay reparation of $35,000 after an employee had his right leg amputated after it got pulled into a wood chipper machine.
Tree maintenance company Tree Scape Limited was sentenced in the Manukau District Court on Friday under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act for not taking all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees at work.
On 16 December 2013 the employee was working as part of a crew removing a roadside tree near power lines. After the last of the large branches had been fed into the chipper, the employee noticed several small branches had not been picked up by the in-feed rollers. The employee used his right foot to kick the branches into the rollers and at the same time his left leg shifted on some loose gravel. His right foot was pulled in by the chipper rollers and he suffered serious harm.
WorkSafe New Zealand’s investigation revealed that Tree Scape Limited could have extended the chute of the chipper from 850mm to 1,500mm to ensure employees were safe.
“Wood chippers are obvious hazards,” says WorkSafe Chief Inspector, Keith Stewart. “Tree Scape Limited could have complied with the Australian standard AS4024 for machinery guarding by extending its chute. Since the incident this standard has been adopted in New Zealand and is now AS/NZS 4024:2014.
“This would have ensured that staff had less opportunity to come into contact with the chipper. This life-changing injury could have been avoided.”