10 Jun 2015

Nelson Pine fined $45,000 for worker's injury

3:29 pm on 10 June 2015

A Nelson timber processing and manufacturing firm has been fined $45,000 after an accident last year that badly injured a worker.

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Photo: 123RF

Nelson Pine Industries was sentenced in the Nelson District Court today and also ordered to pay $10,000 reparation, WorkSafe New Zealand said.

The company was sentenced under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee while at work.

The worker, whose name was suppressed, received severe arm injuries in the accident in August 2014, which happened after he tried to clear a log jam on a conveyor belt. He spent six days in hospital.

WorkSafe said the man did not usually work in the green waste area of Nelson Pine's factory. He had been told to clear log jams using a metal hook, but found the hook ineffective and saw other workers doing it by hand.

An investigation found that the company had failed to identify the hazard of workers accessing the gap between the log kicker and the conveyor belt and had not properly guarded the machine to prevent access to the kicker while it was in operation.

The conveyor had also been altered on the day of the incident to try and reduce the number of log jams, but had not been tested before work resumed.

The company should also have ensured the worker was fully trained or supervised while working in an area he was not familiar with, WorkSafe said.

"Adequate machine guarding is not optional - it's a must," WorkSafe chief inspector Keith Stewart said.

Nelson Pine Industries managing director Murray Sturgeon said outside court that the company accepted the fine, and took the safety of its workers seriously.