1 Feb 2019

Rotorua wood processer fined $680k for workers' serious injuries

4:36 pm on 1 February 2019

Two similar health and safety failings have cost a timber company more than $680,000 in fines, reparations and costs.

Production of cabinet furniture, sawing, materials on a format-cutting machine

Photo: 123RF

Claymark Limited was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court yesterday after two of its workers sustained serious injuries while operating machinery on two separate occasions in late December 2016 and March 2017.

The health and safety regulator, WorkSafe, said in the most recent incident a worker had his hand caught in machinery used to de-stack timber, and lost the tips of his middle, index and little fingers.

WorkSafe's investigation found the machinery was not guarded properly and training and safety procedures had been inadequate.

"The injured worker had also not been trained on the location of the emergency stop buttons on the machine, one of which was not fully operative or clearly marked," WorkSafe said in a statement.

Less than three months earlier, in December 2016, a worker's hand had to be amputated after it was drawn into a wood planer.

In this case, WorkSafe found the planer was also not appropriately guarded and there was no system of regular inspection to ensure guards were present and functional.

WorkSafe specialist interventions head Simon Humphries said companies must learn from health and safety incidents.

"The first incident should have led Claymark to immediately review its health and safety procedures across its plants and ensure machines were properly guarded.

"When the risk was identified as a result of the first incident, step one should have been to check guards were in place, ensure operators were properly trained in the machines' use and, critically, have effective emergency stop devices in place that workers are aware of," Mr Humphries said.

For the December 2016 incident, Claymark was fined $330,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $42,000 in addition to $10,000 already paid.

The March 2017 incident resulted in Claymark receiving a $264,000 fine as well as being ordered to pay reparations of $4000 in addition to $24,000 already paid.