The District Court has recently ordered an employer to pay $36,000 after two separate health and safety failures led to employees being physically injured.

In the first incident, an employee was operating a grinding machine for the first time, without any prior health and safety training or supervision. Four of the employee’s fingers were severed due to the lack of a safety guard.

The machine’s safety guard had broken 18 months before the incident and had never been replaced. The employer also had no safety operations in place for the machine to prevent an accident such as this from happening.  

The second incident occurred six months later, when an employee was operating a different machine. Due to a lack of health and safety training and absence of guarding, the tip of the employee’s finger was sliced off.

The Court determined that the employer had failed to fulfil their health and safety obligations. As a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking, the employer had not ensured, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its employees.

The Court found that the employer had failed to train their employees in adequate health and safety measures. The employer should have ensured that there was proper guarding on each of the machines, and should have undertaken inspections and maintenance on the machines.

If these measures had been taken, the serious injuries of the two employees could have been avoided. One of the workers has undergone seven surgeries and has not been able to return to work, while the other continues to have treatment for her hand.

The Court also noted that the second incident occurred while the employer was on notice regarding their first health and safety failure.

The employer was fined $36,000 for their health and safety failures.

It is important to be aware of your health and safety obligations in order to avoid serious incidents like these. 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