The District Court has ordered an employer to pay over $84,000 after health and safety failings resulted in serious injury to an employee.

The employee engineered a piece of machinery for the employer. The machinery used belts and cogs, so a guard was made to cover them.

The first design did not work efficiently, so the employee made changes to the machine. However, the changes meant that the guard no longer fitted the machine, and the employer contracted an outside company to make a new one.

Before the new guard was completed, the machine was used without a guard. The employee was clearing debris from the machine between runs and her fingers were caught in the cogs resulting in serious injuries.

Worksafe noted that the employer was aware of the risk to the employees due to the lack of a guard, but failed to take appropriate steps to address the risk. It organised a new guard but should have put the machine out of operation until the guard was fitted.

The Court held the employer’s failings to have guards on, and an operating procedure in place for the experimental machine, put the wellbeing of its employees at risk.

The Court ordered the employer to pay further reparations (in addition to what was paid voluntarily) to the employee of $4,700 in addition to a fine of $79,128.

It is important for employers to remain vigilant and actively mitigate new or emerging health and safety risks to its employees. In this case, the employer was aware of the risk and failed to act appropriately, resulting in serious injuries to its employee, and an expensive prosecution.

If there are concerns around the health and safety policies in your workplace, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.