A person who got their arm trapped in a bark-stripping machine has been awarded $10,000 after WorkSafe deemed the machines did not have “appropriate safeguards for New Zealand use”.
The New Zealand subset of forest management company China Forestry Group Company (CFGC) exports logs from New Zealand to China.
The worker was troubleshooting the bark stripping machine at Northport, Whangārei, when its rollers closed and trapped his wrist, which resulted in broken arm and dislocated wrist.
These injuries required surgery, and resulted in WorkSafe opening an investigation in June 2021.
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WorkSafe found that “significant safety modifications” were made to the bark-stripping machine, called a debarker, before it was put into use.
“However, CFGC did not ensure the debarker met New Zealand safeguarding standards before operation,” WorkSafe said in its decision.
“Nor did CFGC bring in a qualified expert to assess the safeguarding of the machine before it was used.”
CFGC was found guilty of not ensuring the healthy and safety of workers, failing to comply with that duty, and exposing workers to “serious injury or death”.
Earlier this month, on May 19, CFGC was ordered to pay a fine of $180,000 and $10,000 in financial reparations to the victim.
Newey Machinery Limited, the subcontractor responsible for operating the machinery, was also sentenced for its part in the incident, but the company was not fined due to financial incapacity.
However, Newey Machinery had to also pay financial reparations of $10,000 to the victim for “emotional harm”.
WorkSafe said it was “vital” any business bringing new machinery into New Zealand does its “due diligence” and brings the equipment into line with our country’s safety standards.
“Get the right experts and advice to ensure none of your workers are exposed to the type of danger seen in this incident,” WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Danielle Henry, said.
“About 80% of acute work-related injuries involve machinery and equipment. Protecting people from machines is a priority for WorkSafe, and we are increasing our focus and enforcement activity in this area.”