Firm fined after meat worker loses finger

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 14:59 07/08/2014

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A ham and bacon company has been fined and ordered to pay reparation to a worker who lost a finger in a meat-slicer accident.

Carterton's Premier Beehive NZ Ltd was sentenced in Masterton District Court today for failing to take practicable steps to protect worker Irene Parker, whose right-hand ring and little fingers were crushed in a roller while she cleaned a meat slicer last September. The ring finger later had to be amputated.

The firm, one of Wairarapa's biggest with around 200 employees, pleaded guilty and faced a maximum fine of $250,000 over the accident. It was the first time it has faced health and safety charges.

Judge Bruce Davidson said the injury was "traumatic and painful" for Parker and said having the rollers operational during cleaning was an obvious hazard that she should have been protected from.

However, the safety procedures Premier Beehive had in place at the time were appropriate for what it then knew about the hi-tech machine, built in Germany.

Following discussions with the manufacturer after the accident, which involved sending a staff member to Germany to investigate, the firm found there was a safer way to operate the machine. But the judge said its culpability for not knowing that earlier was low.

He said there were no aggravating factors, and said mitigating factors included the firm's remorse, guilty plea and "benevolent and responsible attitude" towards Parker while she was recovering and off work for several months.

He convicted the company, fined it $20,000 and ordered it to pay Parker $6000 in reparation. 

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- The Dominion Post

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