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Machinery Risks

Published 15 Aug 2019

Making machinery operationally safe is one of the largest challenges for manufacturers and end users alike.

It's not a new challenge, not hard to identify with, and one in which common sense should play a large part. However it is a challenge which some businesses appear to still be ignoring.

In the last couple of months some major failings around machine safety have been through the Courts.

Hastings District Court has recently fined 2 companies for major Health & Safety failings from back in 2017.

NZCC Ltd fined $210,000 for a serious harm incident with a sausage skin making machine where it trapped a worker's hand, breaking their wrist and requiring skin grafts to the back of the worker's hand. A further aggravating factor was that a similar incident had occurred on the same machine 2 years prior and little had been done to prevent this re-occurrence.

A worker fatality at Homegrown Juice Co Ltd cost the business $367,500 in fines and reparations due to an unguarded and non compliant imported Chinese bottle filling machine. The worker had been cleaning the machine when her clothes became untangled in rotating machinery drawing her in and subsequently died by asphyxiation. Making matters worse the company had been directed to install an 'interlock' guarding system by WorkSafe in 2016 and had failed to do so.

Supermac Group Resources Limited of Tauranga was also fined just under $550,000 for an untrained and unrestrained worker falling off a boom lift causing their subsequent paralysis.

Hayden Mander of WorkSafe NZ is quoted saying "Risks involved in using machinery are very easy to identify, and too many businesses are failing in their duty to keep their workers safe by not putting controls in place to manage the risks."

All of these accidents were foreseeable and avoidable, particularly so when previous accidents had occured on the same machines. That coupled with lack of compliance in training, standard operating procedures, guarding and checks in place, leaves very little defence options when WorkSafe investigate.

The maximum fine under the legislation is $1,500,000.00