Worker has fingers amputated after incident involving a machine used to make pet food

A pet food manufacturer in Te Puke has been fined $132,000 after one of its workers suffered burns so serious she had to have the tips of three of her fingers amputated.

Addiction Food NZ Limited appeared in the Tauranga District Court on Wednesday after a WorkSafe investigation found the machine the company used to pack pet food with was not properly guarded.

In June 2018 a worker was attempting to change packing film stuck at the top of a machine when her fingers were crushed and burnt between large heat panels that were used to seal the film. She suffered from third degree burns to her index finger, middle finger and thumb and they were eventually amputated above the middle joints.

WorkSafe’s Acting Chief Inspector Danielle Henry said a victim has sustained life changing injuries because the machine was not guarded to industry standards.

“Prior to this incident Addiction Food NZ Limited had received three improvement notices and one prohibition notice from WorkSafe relating to health and safety systems.

“The issuing of four notices on other machinery in the workplace should have been a clear indication to Addiction Food NZ Limited that they needed to be completing full risk assessment of machinery before allowing workers to operate it.

“It’s highly disappointing that a company WorkSafe had seriously engaged with on multiple occasions still failed to take health and safety seriously, allowing its workers to operate dangerous machinery with no safe guarding.”

Ms Henry said as well as failing to ensure the machine was adequately guarded, the WorkSafe investigation also found that the company had failed to ensure workers were properly trained and that health and safety documentation was clearly communicated to, and understood by workers.

“WorkSafe had given this company a clear directive to get its health and safety in order. It did not take appropriate action and a worker has needlessly suffered for their laxness”.

Notes:

  • A fine of $132,000 was imposed.
  • Addiction Food NZ 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 reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work in the business or undertaking, namely operating the packing machine, did fail to comply with that duty and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of serious injury.
  • S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1,500,000.

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