Machine guarding failures ‘reprehensible’

A West Auckland bakery business which didn’t properly safeguard its machinery has been sentenced over two incidents, six months apart, in which workers had their hands disfigured.

Bakeworks Limited, which makes gluten-free products, was sentenced in Waitakere District Court for health and safety failures related to both incidents.

In January 2021, a worker had four fingers severed when her hand got caught in a seed grinding machine. The worker had never previously used the grinder or received any training on its operation. The victim has since had seven surgeries on her hand and remains off work.

A WorkSafe investigation found the grinder had no safe operating procedure, and its safety guard had not been replaced when it broke off 18 months prior. The worker was unsupervised, and the only training given to her was immediately prior to the incident.

In June 2021, another worker had her fingertip sliced off while using a dough dividing machine. The fingertip could not be reattached, and her treatment is ongoing.

WorkSafe found this machine again did not have any safe operating procedure, and its guillotine was freely accessible. There was no inspection or maintenance undertaken, and this victim was also inadequately trained – just like her colleague.

“Both of these incidents were entirely avoidable, but to harm a second worker is nothing short of reprehensible when Bakeworks was already on notice of the harm that deficient machine guarding can cause,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Danielle Henry.

“These victims were vulnerable workers who deserved far better from their employer. It is fundamentally wrong that harm rates are worse for Māori, Pacific peoples and migrant workers, and New Zealand needs to do better.”

Read safety information about dough machinery

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