Effective health and safety systems and practices in the workplace are essential to prevent harm to people while they work, says WorkSafe New Zealand.
This was highlighted at the sentencing of landscaping and outdoor timber supplier TW Transport Ltd today (10 March), after an employee lost two fingers while using an unsafe rotating blade saw to cut timber.
WorkSafe’s investigation found one of the two blade guards required for safe operation of the saw was missing. The other guard could not be adjusted to maintain the recommended gap of 12mm or less between the guard and the timber, exposing workers to the saw blade when the saw was in use.
“This case highlights that businesses must constantly assess their risks and put strategies in place to manage them. This would have highlighted the danger of having the blade unprotected, and guarding and proper training could have avoided this incident,” WorkSafe Chief Inspector Keith Stewart said.
“A lack of effective health and safety systems and practices has resulted in a severe injury to one of its workers.”
TW Transport Ltd faced one charge in the Christchurch District Court under section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee while at work.
It was fined $33,750 and ordered to pay the victim reparation of $20,000 for emotional harm and $2,069.60 for financial loss. The charge carries a maximum $250,000 fine. (The incident took place prior to the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act last year.)