Worker’s hand injury prompts renewed safety focus - 2.12.22

WorkSafe New Zealand is again urging vigilance on the risks of exposed machinery, in light of a steel fabrication worker suffering a significant injury on the job in Northland.

The employer, Donovan Group NZ Limited, has been sentenced in the Whangārei District Court for its health and safety failings in June last year.

While working on a steel bending and pressing machine, the victim became unbalanced, and his left hand slipped into the pressing mechanism as it was operating. The incident resulted in partial amputation of a finger, and the victim was off work for two months recovering.

“This machine was not fitted with any observable safety devices whatsoever. It was possible to have physical guards and safety sensors installed on the machine, which would have protected the workers using it,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Danielle Henry.

WorkSafe’s investigation also found the victim was not taken through a risk assessment for the machine, and there was an assumption that the standard operating procedures were for the safety supervisor to be familiar with.

“This is yet another instance where the courts have clearly said it’s not acceptable to expose workers to risk of harm from unguarded machinery. There have been dozens of prosecutions for similar events. The solutions are available and effective, so there are no excuses. Clear guidance, standards, and options for machine guarding have existed for many years, and the wider manufacturing industry needs to do better.”

Read WorkSafe’s guidance on the safe use of machinery