WorkSafe is reminding businesses to go back to basics before allowing workers to operate dangerous machinery.
The message comes after Oak Lane Chaff Limited was fined $260,000 at the Hastings District Court last Friday. The sentencing follows an August 2018 incident in which a worker was dragged into the mixing elements inside of a forage wagon while completing repairs. The machine had been modified to mix and bag animal feed, and was used as part of the production process by Oak Lane Chaff Limited.
He suffered vertebrae, shoulder and rib fractures as well as puncture wounds to his chest and abdomen after being pulled into the machine and out onto its conveyor belt. Another worker also helping repair the wagon suffered injuries to his knees as a result of the incident.
A WorkSafe investigation found power had not been isolated from the machine while repair work was taking place, allowing the machine to inadvertently activate.
The wagon was not appropriately guarded and there was no lock out system. There was no safe system of work in place for cleaning, maintaining or repairing the forage wagon and Oak Lane Chaff Limited did not provide appropriate training or have supervision in place to protect workers while undertaking such repair work on the forage wagon.
WorkSafe’s Acting Chief Inspector Danielle Henry said when it comes to operating machinery - simply go back to basics.
“Businesses operating any kind of machinery should ensure there are appropriate controls in place and the machine is inactive before cleaning or repairing it,” she said.
“If you are engaging people to work in a business that uses machinery, stop and think for five minutes. Is your machine guarded? Do you have a safe system of work in place? Are your workers properly trained and supervised? If you’re answering no to any of these questions then you shouldn’t be allowing your workers to operate these machines.
“This might sound like basic stuff, but it’s becoming all too often that WorkSafe sees rural communities devastated by the loss of a colleague, friend or family member in the course of agricultural work.”
- A fine of $260,000 was imposed.
- Reparation to two workers totalling $61,395 was ordered.
- Oak Lane Chaff Limited was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 2(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
- Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who worked for the PCBU, while maintaining a forage wagon, did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed workers to a risk of serious injury, arising from exposure to a crushing or ejection hazards created by the moving parts of the forage wagon.
- S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.