The importance of ensuring employees are competent - Hutt company fined after worker loses four fingers

04/09/2015 10:35

Hutt company fined after worker loses four fingers

3 September 2015
This accident, apart from the machine guarding, really identifies the importance of ensuring that employees are given good training, instruction and supervision to learn how to undertake their work as safely and efficiently as possible. This accident will have a major impact on their life.

Petone importer and manufacturer European Profile Company Limited has been fined $24,375 and ordered to pay reparation of $17,500 after a worker had four fingers amputated by a wood cutting machine while at work.

European Profile Company Limited was sentenced and fined yesterday in the Hutt Valley District Court under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to keep a worker safe.

The company imports extrusion and hardware from Europe and manufactures joinery at its Cuba Street site. The injured worker was employed as a fabricator/installer at their workshop and on 14 May 2014 was using a thicknesser to plane wood to a certain thickness. When a piece of wood jammed, he tried to push it through from the front, but it got stuck again. He then went to the outfeed end and tried to pull the piece from the other side with his right hand, bracing himself with his left hand on the machine. His left hand slipped and four fingers were amputated.

There were a number of practicable steps European Profile Company Limited could have taken to keep their worker safe. “The thicknesser should have had fitted guards to reduce the risk of the operator being injured by the cutters and saw blade,” says Keith Stewart, WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector. “European Profile Company Limited should also have ensured that their operators were adequately trained. There was no documentation of their training procedures or any records to confirm who was trained, what the training was, and when it occurred.

“They should also have given copies of the company’s health and safety manual or the hazard identification and control procedures to each employee to ensure they knew what to do to stay safe.”

“We’ve recently had a lot of workplace prosecutions in the manufacturing sector following on from life changing injuries to people, many of which have involved unguarded machinery. The guidance on how to make machinery safe is clear and easily accessible on WorkSafe’s website. If you have machinery in your workplace, check it is as safe as it can be.”