News Article

latest news in employment law

Manufacturer Failed to Ensure Worker's Safety

Published 01 Oct 2010

Source: DOL

Manufacturers can't just install their equipment in a business and walk away without checking the equipment for safety in the workplace according to the Department of Labour.

The comments came after the sentencing today of an Auckland meat processing systems manufacturer over an accident in which a meat worker had his leg broken.

Realcold Milmech Ltd was fined $44,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $9,000 in the Tauranga District Court for its role in the accident which Department of Labour Regional Manager Ms De Rooy says involved several failures by Realcold Milmech.

'It didn't do a risk assessment after installing the equipment or ensure the equipment couldn't operate when people needed to access danger areas for maintenance and cleaning. In addition to this there were no guards in place preventing access when the equipment was operating and the equipment didn't have automatic locking devices,' she says.

Ms De Rooy says appropriate guarding of machinery has been law for more than a century 'but people still ignore it or forget about it'.

'Manufacturers have to give safety for users' top priority, because unsafe machinery is the cause of a high number of serious harm and fatal injuries.
'We have a three-year machine guarding project underway to improve this aspect of workplace health and safety and this case involving Realcold Milmech is a good reminder that manufacturers are liable for the ongoing safety of the equipment they produce. Responsibility doesn't end at the point of sale and installation.'

Note to editor

Realcold Milmech Limited pleaded guilty to one charge under Section 18A(2) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act - failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that a halal tipper cradle was designed so that it was safe for tipping animals from the slaughter area to the processing area at Affco's Rangiuru meatworks, namely that the plant was safe in terms of users' exposure to trapping hazards from a pneumatic ram that tipped the cradle.