WorkSafe NZ Prosecution Corner


01 Sep 2017

What happened

On April 6, 2016, an employee of Budget Plastics was seriously injured when his hand became caught in the auger of a plastic extrusion machine while he was loading plastic material for recycling. The machine amputated nearly all of his left hand from his forefingers to his wrist, leaving only his thumb and half of one other finger remaining.
 
WorkSafe investigated the accident and identified a number of health and safety failings. These included the plastic extrusion machine not being fitted with appropriate guarding or with appropriately located emergency stop controls, there being no adequate safe operating procedure for using the plastic extrusion machine, and Budget not having adequate systems to identify hazards and risks in the workplace.
 
Budget was charged with an offence against section 36(1)(a) of the HSW Act by failing to ensure the health and safety of a worker. Budget pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $100,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $37,000.

Takeaway

After the sentencing, WorkSafe issued a press release reinforcing that businesses need to "immediately take action to manage their known risks – identifying and listing them is not enough".

WorkSafe General Manager Operations and Specialist Services, Brett Murray, said, “The lesson here is to fix machinery as soon as risks are identified. If you can’t fix it, then take it out of service until it is safe to use.

“The company identified issues with the guarding on this machine six weeks before the incident, and yet at the time of the incident, nothing had been done to guard, or isolate the machine.”

Other factors

WorkSafe's investigation identified:

  • inadequate systems for identifying and managing risks
  • safe operating procedures were outdated
  • policies and processes for training staff were lacking
  • key safety features such as emergency stop buttons within reach of the operators were absent

Risk management is a key focus of the Health and Safety at Work Act - if you would like to learn more, consider enrolling in our Risk Management course.