The Christchurch District Court has fined an employer $75,000 and ordered it to pay reparation of $35,000 to an injured worker after a guard on a machine was removed resulting in a hand injury to the employee.

The Judge held that removal of the guard was an inexcusable action and the serious injury to the employee was totally foreseeable.  Of interest also was that the manufacturer of the machine was also fined ($60,000) because the machine should not have been able to operate with the guard removed.  An interlock devise should have prevented the machine from operating.  The company was not ordered to pay any reparation to the victim because the employer’s act in removing the guard was the operative cause of the injury and this was beyond the control of the company. 

This prosecution of the manufacturer for failing to comply with safety obligations when it manufactured the piece of equipment was apparently the first time this type of charge had been laid under the Health & Safety at Work Act.

Alan Knowsley

Employment & Health & Safety Lawyer