Company fined after employee amputates his fingers
17 June 2011
Wellington based Aquaheat Industries Limited has been fined $16,000 after an employee chopped off four fingers while cutting steel with a guillotine.
The Lower Hutt District Court also ordered the company to pay reparations of $10,000.
On 18 February last year, the employee put his hand into the machine to adjust a sheet of metal he was cutting. He accidentally pushed down on a pedal that activated the machine.
Four fingers on his left hand were amputated in the incident. Three of the four fingers were successfully reattached.
The day after the accident, Aquaheat installed a fixed protective guard to the machine involved.
“Fitting the protecting guard came a day too late for this employee,” says Dave Hulston, Wellington Service Manager for the Department of Labour. “He should not have had to suffer the pain and trauma of having four fingers cut off in this machine.
“If Aquaheat Industries had been focusing properly on its responsibilities to keep its employees safe, this machine would have been identified as a potential source of danger to employees and this incident could have been avoided,”
“Employers have a responsibility to ensure their employees are not injured at work. Machines must be properly guarded to protect staff while they work.”
The Department wants to reduce the high number and severity of injuries caused by machinery and has a safe use of machinery project under way over the next three years.
Note to Editor
- Aquaheat Industries Limited was convicted and sentenced on one charges under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. This 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.