The District Court has ordered an employer to pay $251,000 after health and safety failures led to a worker suffering a hand injury.

The worker was operating heavy machinery when he lost balance and slipped, his hand being crushed by the machine. The worker had to take two months off of work to recover.

WorkSafe conducted an investigation which found significant health and safety inadequacies within the business.

The machine was not fitted with any safety mechanisms and the WorkSafe officer found that the machine should have been fitted with a safety guard or physical sensors, which would have prevented such injuries being possible.

The investigation also found that the employer had failed to undertake any risk assessments with the employee, meaning that he was unequipped to deal with the hazards of the machine.

The Court held that as a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), the employer failed to ensure the safety of its workers so far as reasonably practicable. As a result, the worker was exposed to a risk of serious injury.

The Court fined the employer $220,000 for their health and safety failures, and ordered them to pay $31,000 in reparations to the victim.

Injuries as a result of unguarded machinery are a common health and safety failure by employers in New Zealand. It is vital to ensure that, as an employer or officer, you are fulfilling your health and safety duties. It is clear that a failure to do so could end in a substantial fine for those involved.

If you are confused about your obligations, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors