Machine guarding separates people from machinery

It is vital that machinery which requires human interaction is adequately guarded to protect workers from risk, says WorkSafe.

This message comes after a worker for Kiwi Lumber suffered fatal chest injuries when she was pulled into machinery the sawmill used for grading and sorting timber in November 2018.

WorkSafe’s investigation found when the worker accessed the machine to clear a fault, it restarted and she was pulled into the machine’s sprockets.

The company appeared at the Masterton District Court earlier this month and in a judge’s decision released on September 25, the company were ordered to pay a fine of $350,000 and reparation to the victim’s family totalling $263,762.

WorkSafe’s Chief Inspector Steve Kelly said this tragic incident highlighted the need to ensure machinery was guarded.

“The worker shouldn’t have been able to access the machine so easily.

“Our message to all businesses is simple – if your worker has to interact with machinery then it must be guarded. The more human interaction needed around machinery, the more vital it is there is adequate guarding in place.

“This particular machine stretched across multiple buildings at the sawmill. Its sheer size meant workers had to interact with it at different locations and it could only be re-started from one point.

“Had appropriate guarding been in place, this woman might still be alive today.”

Notes:

  • A fine of $350,000 was imposed by the judge.
  • Reparation of $263,762 was ordered (including $145,762 in consequential loss).
  • Kiwi Lumber (Masterton) Limited was sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  • Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU, while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking, namely operating the bin sorter machine, did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed any individual to a risk of death or serious injury arising from exposure to the moving parts of machinery in the bin sorter area.
  • S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.
  • The decision was released by the Masterton District Court on September 25, 2020.

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