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Machine guards are there for a reason

21 January 2015

Commercial laundry company Alsco NZ has been fined $38,250 and been ordered to pay $7,500 in reparation after a worker had their hand crushed in the rollers of an unguarded folder machine.

Alsco’s production manager at its Nelson laundry suffered finger fractures, muscle and tendon damage and friction burns when his hand became trapped between two rollers in a Jensen Classic Folder Machine in March 2014. He had been attempting to clear a piece of tape that was attached to the rollers.

The machine’s guard had been removed and a ‘key interlock’, which would have prevented the folder’s use without the guard in place, had been overridden.

Alsco pleaded guilty under sections 6 and 50 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee. It was sentenced today at the Nelson District Court.

WorkSafe New Zealand’s chief investigator Keith Stewart says it was simply irresponsible of the company to allow the folder machine to operate without the guard in place.

“This machine was designed and built with appropriate safety measures that could have prevented this incident. Disabling those safety measures put Alsco’s staff needlessly at risk - it was just asking for trouble.

“The company should also have had rules in place that required the folder machine to be locked out before staff performed maintenance, cleaning, repair or the removal of linen jams and ironer tape.

“Sadly, inadequate machine guarding is all too common. It’s not rocket science – if a machine has moving parts that can trap and injure then there should be guarding in place to prevent workers accessing those parts while it is in operation. And if a machine comes with guards built in, use them,” says Keith Stewart.


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