New Zealand meat manufacturer fined after worker lost four fingers - 17.9.20

A New Zealand meat manufacturer has been sentenced for health and safety failures after a worker lost four fingers in a processing machine. The company was sentenced at the Christchurch District Court this week following the incident in March 2019.

The worker was cleaning the machine when he reached in to clear meat from between a rotating paddle and the inside wall of the machine. The machine hadn’t been stopped correctly and it restarted as part of its cycle. Four fingers on the worker’s hand were immediately amputated. The worker’s fingers were unable to be reattached. 

WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector Steve Kelly said a WorkSafe investigation found the method of operating the machine had been unsafely adapted. “Instead of accessing the machine via its raised platform and from behind an interlocked guard, a step ladder was used to gain access to an unguarded area of the machinery, against best practice and the direction of the manufacturers operating manual.

“The company’s standard operating procedure and risk assessment for the machine were neither monitored or reviewed allowing this adapted method of cleaning the machine to go unchallenged and uncontrolled. “Hellers’ failures to ensure employees were carrying out work safely put workers at very serious risk, and in this instance, led to a worker suffering from life-changing injuries.”

The company was ordered to pay a fine of $193,500 as well as $60,000 in reparation to the victim.