'Businesses aren't taking responsibility': Too many workers losing fingers, says WorkSafe

File photo: Getty Images
File photo: Getty Images
WorkSafe is calling on manufacturing businesses to boost safety standards, saying too many workers are losing their fingers in industrial machinery.

In the last two months courts had imposed more than half a million dollars in penalties to companies whose employees have lost fingers at work, it said.

In one recently sentenced case, WorkSafe said Thompson Engineering in Timaru was fined $247,000 and ordered to pay $35,000 in reparations after a worker had two of their fingers amputated and a third degloved by a punch and shear machine in January 2022.

In another case Anglo Engineering in Auckland was fined $200,000 and ordered to pay $35,337 in reparations after a worker had three fingers partially amputated following an accident with a punch and forming press in March 2022.

WorkSafe principal inspector Mark Donaghue said he was appalled by how often workers received life-altering injuries.

"We get notifiable injuries on a weekly basis... from smaller amputations to more significant entanglement and amputation injuries," he said.

"They happen far too often. There's no need for them to be happening, they are preventable."

He said machinery could cause a variety of injuries if not properly maintained.

"From cutting to entanglement, to crushing, to drawing in and degloving... there's quite a variety, including projectile-type injuries where stuff breaks and gets flung about."

Donaghue said businesses had no excuses for letting their workers get injured.

"The main reason is that businesses aren't taking responsibility... smaller operators may not have the resources to put controls in place... possibly not putting enough training," he said.

"But ultimately they're not taking ownership of their equipment and legal duties to keep [workers] safe."

Donaghue urged businesses to ensure staff are well-trained and all machinery is properly maintained.