A multinational company has been sentenced after a worker’s arm got caught in a bark-stripping machine which did not have the appropriate safeguards for New Zealand use.
CFGC Forest Managers (NZ) Limited (CFGC) is a forest management and export company. Its parent company, China Forestry Group New Zealand Company Limited, exports logs from New Zealand to China.
The worker was troubleshooting on the debarking machine when its rollers closed and trapped his wrist. He required surgery and plates put in for a broken arm and a dislocated wrist.
WorkSafe opened an investigation into the June 2021 incident at Northport, which found significant safety modifications were made to the debarker before it was put into use.
However, CFGC did not ensure the debarker met New Zealand safeguarding standards before operation. Nor did CFGC bring in a qualified expert to assess the safeguarding of the machine before it was used.
“It is vital that any business bringing new machinery into the country does its due diligence to bring the equipment into line with New Zealand safety standards. Get the right experts and advice to ensure none of your workers are exposed to the type of danger seen in this incident,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Danielle Henry.
“About 80 percent of acute work-related injuries involve machinery and equipment. Protecting people from machines is a priority for WorkSafe, and we are increasing our focus and enforcement activity in this area.”
In December 2022, Newey Machinery Limited was sentenced for its part in the incident as the subcontractor responsible for operating the machine. The company wasn’t fined due to financial incapacity, but Judge Rzepecky ordered the victim to receive $10,000 in reparations from Newey.
- CFGC Forest Managers (NZ) Limited was sentenced at Whangārei District Court on 19 May 2023
- A fine of $180,000 was imposed and further reparations of $10,000
- CFGC was charged under sections 36(1)(b), 48(1) and 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers whose activities in carrying out work are influenced or directed by the PCBU, while the workers were carrying out work in the business or undertaking, namely operating the A5 debarker, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed the workers to risk of serious injury or death.
- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.