Auckland company fined $200k after employee severs thumb

WorkSafe said the incident is a 'timely warning' for other businesses

Auckland company fined $200k after employee severs thumb

An Auckland-based egg processing company has been fined $200,000 after a workplace accident that left an employee's thumb severed.

The worker's thumb was severed in October 2020, after it got caught between the edge of an opened access latch and the rotating blade of a screw conveyor that had inadequate guarding, according to a statement from WorkSafe New Zealand.

The agency, citing its investigation, revealed that the workers were well aware of the open latch to the blade and had to use workarounds to get around it.

However, the managers of the site were unaware of the said hatch to the blade because of its "obscured location" and neither were they aware of the workarounds the staff had to do.

According to Hayden Mander, WorkSafe's national manager of investigations, the workplace accident could have been avoided if the machinery was "properly guarded to industry standard."

"Although a business might have standard operating procedures for machinery while it’s in use, it's critical to think about how that extends to cleaning and maintenance too. Those uses can't be dismissed as out of sight and out of mind," added Mander.

Read more: WorkSafe lays charges over fatal Wiri explosion

As a result of the incident, the Papakura District Court on Monday slapped the egg processing company with $200,000 of fines for violating sections 36(1)(a), 48(1), and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

In addition, the company was also ordered to pay $30,000 to the victim as reparations.

Mander said that the company's experience should be a "timely warning for other businesses."

"Clear guidance and standards have been in place for many years, and the wider manufacturing industry needs to take notice to stop injuring and killing its workers," said the WorkSafe official.

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