A West Auckland bakery business which didn’t properly safeguard its machinery has been sentenced over two incidents, six months apart, in which workers had their hands disfigured.
Bakeworks Limited, which makes gluten-free products, was sentenced in Waitakere District Court for health and safety failures related to both incidents.
In January 2021, a worker had four fingers severed when her hand got caught in a seed grinding machine. The worker had never previously used the grinder or received any training on its operation. The victim has since had seven surgeries on her hand and remains off work.
A WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found the grinder had no safe operating procedure, and its safety guard had not been replaced when it broke off 18 months prior. The worker was unsupervised, and the only training given to her was immediately prior to the incident.
In June 2021, another worker had her fingertip sliced off while using a dough dividing machine. The fingertip could not be reattached, and her treatment is ongoing.
WorkSafe found this machine again did not have any safe operating procedure, and its guillotine was freely accessible. There was no inspection or maintenance undertaken, and this victim was also inadequately trained – just like her colleague.
“Both of these incidents were entirely avoidable, but to harm a second worker is nothing short of reprehensible when Bakeworks was already on notice of the harm that deficient machine guarding can cause,” says WorkSafe's area investigation manager, Danielle Henry.
“These victims were vulnerable workers who deserved far better from their employer. It is fundamentally wrong that harm rates are worse for Māori, Pacific peoples and migrant workers, and New Zealand needs to do better.”
- Bakeworks Limited was sentenced at Waitakere District Court on 15 March 2023
- Judge Fraser imposed a fine of $36,000
- Bakeworks was twice charged under sections 36(1)(a), s 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the Act)
- Being a PCBU, having a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU while the workers are at work in the business operating the Torrey M-22 RW Grinder (the grinder), did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed individuals to a risk of serious injury.
- Being a PCBU, having a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking, namely operating the Vemag Robot 500 dough proportioner machine (the machine), did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed workers to a risk of serious injury.
- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.