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Machine Guarding a Fundamental Step to Prevent Accidents

Published 01 Oct 2010

DOL Media Release

The Department of Labour has successfully prosecuted four companies for their part in a serious workplace accident which could have been avoided if a piece of machinery had been properly guarded.

The injury occurred on 13 February 2009 at Greenlea Premier Meats when an employee of Allied Workforce, a contract labour supply company, working at the Greenlea plant suffered serious injuries when his hand got caught between the roller of a conveyor and the conveyor itself.

Greenlea contracted Veron Technologies International Limited to design and build a freezing and sorting system. In turn, Veron contracted Total Solutions Limited to design, manufacture and install the conveyor, which was part of the system. When the conveyor belt came loose, Total installed the tension roller to solve the problem. The employee's hand got caught between this tension roller and the conveyor.

The Department of Labour's investigation into the accident found that the tension roller was not guarded.

“The obligation to guard machinery has been in legislation for over a century and the department is still finding inadequately guarded machinery,” says the Department of Labour Regional Manager, Ms de Rooy. “Machine guarding is a fundamental step that can be taken to prevent accidents”.

“Each of the four companies involved had responsibilities to take whatever practicable steps they could to ensure that no one was injured while working on machinery.”

“Often when someone gets hurt it goes back to design, building, modification and maintenance of machinery and plant.”

“Machine guarding is an area of focus for the Department. Because of the high number of serious harm and fatal injuries associated with the unsafe use of machinery, the Department has begun a three-year machine guarding project across New Zealand. Health and Safety Inspectors will focus on machine guarding standards and the effective implementation of procedures and systems to ensure the safe use of machinery in the workplace. The project will also include designers, manufacturers and suppliers where inspectors identify that unsafe machinery has been sold or supplied to New Zealand businesses” Ms de Rooy says.

All the parties involved pleaded guilty to the charges.

Allied Workforce faced a charge under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (the Act) for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee while at work.

Allied was fined $27,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $2,000.

Total Solutions faced one charge under Regulation 66 of the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995, as the designer of the plant, failed to take all practicable steps to design the plant in such a way that there was no likelihood that the plant would be a source of harm to any person.

Total was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $9,000.

Greenlea Premier Meats Limited faced one charge under section 18 of the Act, as a principal failed to take all practicable steps to ensure that no employee of a contractor was harmed while doing the work the contractor was engaged to do.

Greenlea was fined $42,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $9,000.

Veron Technologies International Limited faced a charge under section 18A of the Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that the plant was designed so that is was safe for its known intended use.

Veron was fined $5,000.