On 28 April 2016 a worker employed by Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited was operating a tin can baler when the worker noticed a piece of plastic mixed with the tin cans in the bale and reached in to remove the plastic. The baler press came down on the worker’s hand and forearm. This resulted in a left hand de-gloving injury and hamate fracture - a fracture of the carpal bone on the outside (little finger side) of the wrist.

The worker was in hospital for initially eight days and underwent a skin graft for the de-gloving injury. The worker was then readmitted for a further two days to undergo an operation for the fracture and a further skin graft was also performed. The worker’s left hand/lower arm was placed in a splint for four weeks.

The worker has made a full recovery with no long lasting effects but will have a scar for life.

Alleged breach

Sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c), of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Summary of enforceable undertaking

Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited will:

  • Redesign and update all Standard Operating Procedures (“SOPs”) to be more visual. Retrain all staff in the updated SOPs, using visual and physical learning techniques.
  • Re-engage SafeWise Limited to provide support in areas requiring attention.
  • Provide training and development (two separate programmes) by external providers for all employees and members of the Safety Committee.
  • Review and update the Traffic Management Plan for the Transfer Station.
  • Join Waste Management Institute of New Zealand Inc. and attend the annual conference to share their story and learn from others.
  • Commission an article to be submitted to NZ Trucking and Safeguard magazines.
  • Provide community sponsorship to Waikato-Tainui Marae Development Unit to go towards Health & Safety Workshops and Health & Safety Starter kits.
  • Produce an educational video to highlight the consequences of a major H&S incident and effects this has on the employees and wider community.

The following activities which form part of the Enforceable Undertaking have already been completed:

  • Join NZ Institute of Safety Management and Managing Director to attend Professional Development Day; and
  • Carry out Management Road Trips where the Managing Director and Operations Manager will visit 6 facilities that are either in the same industry or that run similar types of machinery to discuss health and safety.

This enforceable undertaking has a total expenditure of at least $74,786.60 (excluding $2,305 towards the facilitator’s fees for a restorative justice conference).

Reasons for accepting the undertaking

  • The alleged contravention does not amount to an offence against section 47 (reckless conduct) which would preclude it from being accepted.
  • The enforceable undertaking meets the requirements of WorkSafe’s Enforceable Undertakings Operational Policy document dated December 2016; in particular noting:
    • The nature of the alleged contravention and how serious it was.
      • Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited accepts the alleged contravention was serious and realises the potential for the incident to further affect the worker in terms of emotional or psychological harm.
      • Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited accepts the incident can be directly attributed to the lack of guarding on the tin baler which allowed access to the crushing/nipping points of the platen.
      • Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited accepts that adequate guarding, or alternative effective controls, could have prevented the worker from accessing the nip points.
    • Submissions received from any interested party, including any victim(s), in relation to the contravention.
      • Acceptable amends were offered to, and accepted by, the worker.
      • There was no information received indicating the worker opposed the enforceable undertaking.
    • The person’s conduct in respect of mitigation and remedial action, regarding both the contravention and any person affected by the contravention (including victims).
      • Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited has:
        • Expressed deep regret and genuine remorse for the incident.
        • Following the incident installed permanently fixed guards and gates with an interlocking system, as well as a control box and operation panel.
        • Installed an isolation switch which enables lockout of the machine whilst maintenance is performed.
        • Engaged a suitably qualified engineer to reassess all yard equipment/machinery, focusing on current, new and potential hazards and the risks associated with these hazards.
        • Formulated a plan to improve engineering controls based on the recommendations from the engineer.
        • Implemented a new Safe Operating Procedure for the baler to address matters regarding the safe use of yard equipment/machinery.
        • Provided training for all employees involved with the use of yard equipment/machinery to ensure the Safe Operating Procedure is understood.
        • Made a statement confirming that the behaviour, activities and other factors which led to the contravention have ceased and will not reoccur.
        • Shown a commitment to implementing the activities agreed in this undertaking.
      • The activities in the enforceable undertaking will provide long-term sustainable health and safety improvements in the workplace, industry and community. 
    • The person’s past performance and history of compliance with health and safety legislation.
      • Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited does not have any previous health and safety convictions.
    • Any other matter which WorkSafe thinks is relevant
      • The undertaking delivers benefits beyond compliance.
      • The undertaking offers sufficient benefit to the workplace, industry and community to offset the seriousness of the offending.
      • The undertaking contains acceptable terms.
      • The undertaking accounts for the benefits that accrue to Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited by the prosecution not proceeding.

Further information

View the full Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited enforceable undertaking here.

Enforceable undertaking - Metropolitan Waste (Waikato) Limited (PDF 8.5 MB)