Poor training and supervision contributed to a worker having his hand seriously injured on unsafe machinery at a Hawke’s Bay meatworks, which has now been sentenced.

The incident occurred on the lamb brisket cutter at Progressive Meats Limited in Hastings in October 2020. The injured worker, Alesana Baker, was 17 at the time and was two weeks into the job – having just left high school.

Mr Baker was trained to use the machine by a co-worker who started on the same day as him. The co-worker demonstrated how to use the machine with one hand. When Mr Baker followed this method, his right hand was struck by the brisket cutter blades. This partially amputated his thumb, index finger, middle finger and ring finger.

Following a trial in December 2022, Judge Geoff Rea found Progressive Meats guilty of health and safety failures. His decision noted the “training was completely inadequate and… positively dangerous”.

Supervisors, senior management, and the company owners were unaware of the brisket cutter being used single-handedly and, until this incident, did not believe it could be used in such a way.

“Alesana was at the very start of his working life when this awful injury was inflicted. It’s unfair for him to have been robbed of the full function of his hand,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Paul Budd.

“I echo the Judge’s view that proper training must always be given and the safety aspects explained when workers deal with potentially dangerous equipment such as this.”

Read more about the safe use of machinery


  • Progressive Meats Limited was sentenced at Hastings District Court on 18 May 2023
  • A fine of $280,000 was imposed and reparations of $48,000
  • Progressive Meats was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
    • Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, namely at its meat processing site, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed workers to a risk of death or serious injury arising from the use of the plant, namely a brisket cutter.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.

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