The District Court has ordered an employer to pay $450,000 for breaching its health and safety obligations resulting in serious injuries to an employee.

The employee was working on a machine. The employer had removed the protective guard from the machine to have it modified.

Despite the guard being removed, the machine was still being used. The employee reached into the machine to remove debris and their arm was caught.

While caught in the machine, the emergency stop button was out of reach. The employee sustained serious injuries freeing themselves from the machine.

The Worksafe investigation revealed that despite the guard being removed, and the machine continuing to be used, no other safety measures were put in place by the employer to protect employees.

It was also noted that the employee was operating the dangerous piece of machinery alone, and that he should have been supervised.

The District Court ordered the employer to pay a fine of $400,000 and $50,000 in reparations to the employee.

When guards or other protections are removed from dangerous equipment, it is important for employers to either stop using the equipment, until the protective measures are replaced, or to implement other robust safety measures to protect employees.

Failure to eliminate or minimise hazards as far as reasonably practicable can leave employees vulnerable to serious injury or death, and may result in an expensive prosecution.

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

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