Big fine for sausage factory after worker's hand trapped

Sausage casing company NZCC's "failure to address a known safety issue has left the worker with...
Sausage casing company NZCC's "failure to address a known safety issue has left the worker with significant, and completely unnecessary, injuries", Worksafe said. Photo: file via NZ Herald

A Hastings sausage casing company has been fined $210,000 and ordered to pay $18,000 to a worker whose hand was trapped for 20 minutes in a machine.

NZCC, which processes and supplies sausage casings, was sentenced at the Hastings District Court on Wednesday after the July 2017 incident.

It pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 of failing to ensure the health and safety of workers operating a finishing/cleaning machine exposing an individual to a risk of death or serious injury.

The worker's left hand was trapped for about 20 minutes between two rollers while they were operating a sausage casing machine.

They suffered a broken wrist and de-gloving of the back of their hand, requiring skin grafts.

WorkSafe's investigation found that after a similar incident on a sausage casing machine two years earlier, NZCC Ltd engaged an engineer whose proposed solutions proved to be ineffective.

The company then reverted to using the machine in its unsafe state. The sausage casing machine involved in this incident was in the same unsafe state.

NZCC Ltd was fined $210,000 and ordered to pay reparation of more than $18,000 on top of $10,000 it had already paid to the victim.

WorkSafe's chief inspector Hayden Mander said it was important to make sure machines met required safety standards and there were effective safety protocols in place.

"NZCC Ltd engaged with an engineer, but they had no knowledge of relevant machinery safety standards. Instead of giving up and using the machine in an unsafe state, NZCC Ltd should have sought help from a machinery expert with proper knowledge.

"The company's failure to address a known safety issue has left the worker with significant, and completely unnecessary, injuries.

"This is powerful machinery which is able to cause serious injury. Employers should always ensure safety precautions are in place and workers are kept out of harm's way."

- Hawke's Bay Today

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