New Zealand-based Tegel Foods Ltd. has been fined $41,250 following an accident at its Christchurch factory, where one of their 1,700 employees was injured using an unguarded machine.
According to information from New Zealand’s Department of Labour, the Christchurch District Court also ordered the company to pay $5,000 in reparation following the accident on 6 October 2010 which resulted in the employee having the top of her finger amputated. (WCxKit)
“The employee was feeding meat through the mincer and her left hand was positioned close to where the meat comes out. Due to the fitting on the mincer, the rotating blade was exposed while the machine was in operation,” said Department of Labour’s Christchurch Service Manager, Margaret Radford.
“The employee’s left ring finger came into contact with the rotating blade and had to be amputated at the first knuckle. Our investigation found that there were a number of things the company should have done to prevent this employee losing the top of her finger.
“The rotator blade should have been guarded and a hazard review should have been completed with the employee when she began work on the mincer. A safe operating procedure for operating the mincer was also missing.
According to Radford, since the accident, Tegel Foods has placed a guard on the mincer and has developed a safe operating procedure and hazard register for this type of machine. It emerged in court that the company has now decommissioned the machine. (WCxKit)
Last year, the Department launched a nationwide project to help reduce the number and severity of machinery-related accidents. In the first year of the project inspectors visited more than 1,400 workplaces to talk with employers and increase their awareness of machine guarding.
Note: this is ALSO a potential product liability claim, and an employer may wish to file a third-party action against the manufacturer of the equipment. Make sure your insurance companies are filing such claims for injuries which occur on equipment manufactuered by another company.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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