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Bluebird employee loses finger in dangerous machine

Media Release

27 April 2011

Bluebird Foods Limited was last week fined $32,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $10,000 following an accident at its snack food factory in Wiri, Manukau in June last year.

Bluebird pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety in Employment Act in the Manukau District Court after a 21 year old employee had his right middle finger amputated and suffered injuries to his hand and arm because the machine he was cleaning wasn’t guarded.

The court heard that the employee was working in the fryer section of the chip line on 10 June 2010 and was required to stop the line to do a routine change over - which involved cleaning the equipment. As he was cleaning the inside wall of the fryer his hand became trapped, causing the serious injuries.

The Department of Labour’s investigation found that not only was the machine inadequately guarded, but the employee wasn’t properly trained to work on the production line.

“Had these simple steps been in place, this young employee would not have lost a finger and suffered serious, long term injuries,” says the Department’s Manukau Service Manager, Craig White.

“While Bluebird installed a fixed guard on the machine to prevent a similar accident in the future, it should have acted much earlier,” Mr White says.

“Guarding dangerous machinery is the most basic and easiest way to prevent these types of accidents. We’re seeing far too many employees losing fingers, or facing serious injuries because employers still don’t seem to get the message that these machines need to be adequately guarded.

“The Department has a national three-year machine guarding project under way to raise the awareness of proper machine guarding and make sure employers are aware of their duties to protect their staff,” Mr White says.



Note to Editor

    • Bluebird Foods Limited was convicted on one charge under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
    • Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 states: Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to—
      • (a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and
      • (b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and
      • (c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and
      • (d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—
        • (i) in their place of work; or
        • (ii) near their place of work and under the employer's control; and
      • (e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.
    • The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online.