A sawmill in New Zealand’s Kawerau was fined $20,000 after an employee sustained multiple fractures when he became trapped in a conveyor belt.
Sequal Lumber Limited Partnership was also ordered to pay reparations of $8,000 following the accident on 4 September last year.
The Whakatane District Court heard that an employee of Sequal Lumber was shovelling bark onto the conveyor belt when the accident happened.
“The employee dropped his shovel, tripped over it and fell onto the conveyor belt, trapping his right arm between the conveyer and its pulley,” says central region health and safety manager for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ona De Rooy.
The employee was seriously injured as a result. He suffered multiple fractures, including a fracture to his right arm, several broken ribs and lacerations.
“This is yet another unacceptable example of an employer failing to take the steps required to keep their workers safe on the job. All too often employees are seriously injured at work, when it is their fundamental right to go home safe at the end of their working day,” Ona says.
“This accident could have been prevented if Sequal Lumber had put in place adequate machine guarding. We encourage all employers to familiarise themselves with the machine guarding information available on the MBIE’s website, as well as our other information on keeping safe at work,” Ona says.
What does the law say:
Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, states:
Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to—
· (a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and
· (b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and
· (c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and
· (d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—
· (i) in their place of work; or
· (ii) near their place of work and under the employer’s control; and
· (e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.