Safety mistakes costly for employers

Lawyers are expecting big increases in penalties when the results of cases based on the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 are released.

The following examples are based on the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. These prosecutions give employers a flavour of the penalties that have been made over the past twelve months or so.

1. Plastic manufacturing company

An employee had his index finger crushed when it became trapped in a pipe bending machine. His glove caught and was pulled into the machine - no guard was in place.

Fine: $33,000; Reparation: $5,000

2. Automotive and transmission company

An employee was using an angle grinder with a cutting disc. The guard had been removed and while cutting a metal plate, a piece of metal sheared off partially amputating two fingers.

Fine:$15,000; Reparation: $5,000

3. Food manufacturing company

An employee using a high speed rotating dicing machine in the vegetable preparation area removed the chute/guard to remove a blockage with his hand. The result was the partial loss of four fingers. There were no procedures (SOPs) or training in place for the effective and safe clearing of blockages.

Fine: $39,375; Reparation: $39,287

4. Warehouse operation

An employee was operating a forklift when it got jammed under a support beam, trapping both driver and forklift. The employee died. He was not certified to drive a forklift, and there were no hazard identification, controls or training for forklift operation in the warehouse.

Fine: $52,000; Reparation: $76,994

5. Food processing company

The company owned a belt slicer machine; over an 18 month period three employees were injured.

The first was when an employee went to clear a blockage and the rollers pushed his hand into the machine, amputating part of one finger and the tip of another. The company failed to contact WorkSafe. 

The next happened when another employee went to clear a blockage in a new belt slicer and lost part of a finger.

Two weeks later a third employee was injured by the same slicer and lost the tips of two fingers. Again, the company failed to notify WorkSafe.

There was no effective system in place to identify new and existing hazards, insufficient guards in place, no interlock device to cut the power and prevent the rotating blades until after they had stopped rotating and no training procedures so staff knew what to do.

Fine for all offences: $196,406; reparation for the three employees: $57,000.

Remember, these are under the "old" Act - penalties under the "new" Act (which will be higher) haven't come through the courts as yet.

Watch this space.

As an employer you must put in place measures to keep your workers safe. If you have a robust Health and Safety Management System in place, it makes things much easier and safer - take some action now.

safetyWIRE can help employers; it's an effective health and safety management system.

Contact: Paddy Battersby :: Battersby HR Consulting :: 09 838 6338 :: ::

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