The world’s largest manufacturer of ancient Kauri wood products has been fined $30,000 in the Kaitaia District Court after a mill supervisor had his fingers severed by a rotating saw blade.
Ancient Kauri Wood Products Limited at Awanui was also ordered to pay $20,000 in reparations after the Court heard the employee underwent about 20 hours of emergency surgery to have his fingers reattached to his left hand. He still requires treatment to restore the feeling to his hand.
The accident happened on 25 August last year when the employee was using a radial saw - the blade dug in to a piece of timber he was holding and shot towards him amputating his fingers through the knuckles.
“This employee suffered gruesome injuries and had to be flown from Kaitaia to Auckland for extensive surgery because his employer didn’t take all practicable steps to ensure his safety,” says Rod Gibbon, the Department of Labour’s Service Manager in Whangarei.
“He was working with a revolving blade that was exposed and could be reached from a number of angles because the guards on the machine were either inadequate or non-existent,” says Mr Gibbon.
“A limit stop device would have prevented the saw from moving beyond the edge of the bench near the operator. The blade should have also been adjusted correctly for ripping timber, but the employee was not aware of this safety requirement.
“Sadly this is just one of many machine guarding-related accidents the Department investigates every year. Our inspectors are still seeing too many cases of unsafe machinery, poor guards and a lack of safety procedures around machine use.
“For this reason the Department has a three-year national compliance project under way to raise awareness of proper machine guarding and to remind employers of their responsibilities to provide a safe workplace.
“In the past year we’ve visited more than 1,000 employers across the country as part of this project. Where we find cases of unsafe machinery being used we will take action to reduce the unacceptably high number of people being harmed at work,” Mr Gibbon says.
(i) in their place of work; or
(ii) near their place of work and under the employer's control; and