Court Summary - at a glance

Date of offence:
24 October 2018
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Final decision date:
 
Fine imposed:
$79,428

Safety lessons learned:
  1. Ensure the Equibire Machine was adequately guarded in accordance with AS/NZS 4024 or equivalent standard before workers used the Equifibre Machine to manufacture Equifibre.
  2. Establish an adequate Safe System of Work for the Equifibre Machine while it was undergoing testing and modification.

Defendant name:
Let’s Bale Limited
 
Industry:
Manufacturing
 
Date of offence:
24 October 2018
 
Facts in brief:
The Defendant operates a factory located in Kawerau (the site). The Defendant’s primary function is the harvesting and manufacturing of an animal feed product, namely Equifibre Lucerne Pro (Equifibre).

The raw material is processed through a series of machines before the Equifibre is bagged for sale.

The Defendant developed its own prototype machine for the manufacturing of Equifibre (the machine). The machine had been in operation approximately four to five weeks prior to the incident and was undergoing testing and modification.

Over the weekend of 13 and 14 October 2018, the Defendant introduced a chain and cog system to the machine to improve efficiency. A guard was fabricated to sit over the moving cogs and stationary chain. Over the course of the following week the cogs frequently jumped off the chain slowing down production.

Over the weekend of 20 and 22 October 2018, a bracket was fabricated to ensure the cogs remained on the chain. As a result the guard was no longer suitable and a new guard was required.
On 23 October 2018 processing commenced on the machine with no guard in place. The Defendant advised workers that there was no guard in place and to “keep their hands well clear of the machine and to be particularly careful”.

On 24 October 2018, the victim was operating the machine. Before or shortly after the roller moved back to the start position, the victim attempted to clean residual Equifibure product that had built up near the chain.

As the victim was attempting to clean the product, her gloved right hand snagged on a metal edge and became trapped between the moving cog and stationary chain as the hydraulic ram cycled back.

As a result the victim sustained serious crushing injuries to her right hand. She was required to undergo surgery and remained in hospital for approximately two weeks. Her injuries included amputation of right index finger from the middle knuckle, broken bones, laceration and nerve and tendon damage.
 
Offence section:
Sections 48(1) and 2(c) and 36(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
 
Date charged:

Court:
Tauranga - District Court
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Final decision date:
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Fine imposed:
$79,428
 
Maximum fine available:
$500,000
 
Reparation:
$4,700 ordered but total amount set at $35,000 (the Defendant had paid a $15,000 lump sum payment prior to sentencing, and since the incident had paid the victim $250 per week until 9 March 2020).