15 Jul 2020

Failures at Affco meat plant led to worker suffering severe burns - WorkSafe

10:46 am on 15 July 2020

Affco meat company has been ordered to pay almost $300,000 after a worker suffered burns to 75 percent of his body and was in an induced coma for five weeks.

Iv Drip in hospital corridor

The worker was in an induced coma for five weeks and required multiple operations. Photo: 123rf

The worker was tending to the furnace of a boiler at Affco's Moerewa plant in July 2018. He opened the boiler door and a build-up of coal combusted and sent heat and flames out and into the room.

The worker was left with severe burns to 75 percent of his body. He was placed in an induced coma for five weeks and required multiple surgeries and skin grafts.

The man has been unable to return to work.

Yesterday, Affco New Zealand Ltd was fined $230,000 and ordered to pay $65,000 in reparation for failing to keep the worker safe.

WorkSafe acting chief inspector Danielle Henry said its investigation found Affco failed to ensure there was an effective system for monitoring and supervising workers overseeing the boiler.

"This failure by Affco to support workers and keep them safe has resulted in life-changing and painful injuries for one of its workers.

"Affco had recorded several instances of excess coal build up which caused these kinds of events and had made unsuccessful moves to rectify this.

"The business should have had systems in place to ensure workers were aware of the risk and had safe ways of rectifying the situation."

Henry said all businesses had to consider how they can design safe work processes including ensuring workers had the knowledge, experience and equipment to do their job safely.

Earlier this month Affco New Zealand was fined $46,000 under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

The charge related to an incident at the company's Imlay plant in which offal squirted in a worker's eye. The worker became extremely ill with an infection known to be carried by animals and as a result later required heart surgery.

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