An employee has had the fingers and tip of his thumb amputated after accidently knocking an activation switch on a piece of machinery. The employee became disorientated after sawdust flicked off the blade into his eye.

The District Court charged the employer under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the employee’s safety.

WorkSafe New Zealand found that the employee was wearing sunglasses while operating the machine, and noted that the employer should have ensured that all of its employees were provided with, and were wearing, the correct safety gear.

The employer also failed to ensure that the machine had an effective guard to prevent employees coming into contact with the blade, and failed to replace the activation switch in accordance with industry guidelines released by the Department of Labour as early as 2005.

Employers need to keep on top of safety guidelines and requirements or else they may face civil and criminal penalties.   

The District Court sentenced and fined the employer $51,000, and ordered the employer to pay $38,000 in reparation to the employee.