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Employers must actively manage risks to ensure workers go home healthy and safe according to WorkSafe New Zealand.
On successive days in March 2016, two different workers sustained severe injuries to their hands while using a bench saw. Neither injury was notified and WorkSafe only became aware of the injuries when one of the victims complained to WorkSafe nearly two months after the incidents.
Today in the North Shore District Court, Quality Kitchens NZ Ltd and Quality Construction NZ Ltd (which have the same sole director) were fined a total $78,000 for health and safety breaches. Quality Kitchens was ordered to pay reparations of $21,828.89 and Quality Construction was ordered to pay reparations of $30,083.84.
In each case the victims’ hands contacted the blade while using the bench saw to cut wood. Both workers required surgery, and were off work for at least three months.
“This case is concerning because less than four months earlier, WorkSafe issued Quality Kitchens an improvement notice requiring it to implement a workplace hazard management and control system and it had not done so when these incidents occurred,” WorkSafe Chief Inspector, Steve Kelly said.
“There are two employees who’ve suffered serious injuries because this employer had not implemented any systems to identify and manage workplace risks, nor had the employer formally trained the two workers on how to safely operate the equipment – that is unacceptable,” said Mr Kelly.
Note - This incident occurred while the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 was still in force. Each company faced one charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its workers, and one charge of failing to notify WorkSafe of incidents involving serious harm. Each charge carried a maximum penalty of $250,000.