Company fined $32,500 for workplace accident

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:27 25/11/2013

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The company behind Palmerston North's Ernest Adams plant has been fined $32,500 and ordered to pay an employee $8000 after a workplace accident severed four of his fingers.

Goodman Fielder had already paid the victim, Damon Saunders, $47,000 to cover his expenses and loss of pay due to being on ACC.

The further costs were placed on the company after Judge Barbara Morris released her decision today after a sentencing hearing at Palmerston North District Court two months ago.

Saunders lost four fingers and had the skin pulled from his hand in the accident, which occurred on November 22 last year. He was cleaning dough from a machine while it was still running so that a different-coloured batch of dough could be put through it.

After he lifted a loading hopper from the machine, he stumbled catching his hand between two rollers.

The machine amputated four fingers on his right hand, severely broke his right thumb - requiring screws and plates to be inserted - and pulled the skin off from his hand to his wrist.

"Our investigators discovered there were no guards on the machine to ensure employees could not access it while it was running,'' Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment chief inspector of investigation Keith Stewart said.

''We also found that although there was a standard procedure for the machine's general operation, there was no plan for this process which resulted in the very serious injury to the employee.

"The company has since implemented an interlock guarding system so there's no chance workers are exposed to this risk, but that's come too late for this employee who suffered terrible injuries because of the company's failings.''

During the court hearing in September MBIE lawyer Alex Leulu said emotional harm reparation should still be significant, while Goodman Fielder lawyer Tim Clarke asked for a low sum. He said the company had a good health and safety record and its actions in helping Saunders deserved credit.

Saunders was reported in September as holding no ill-feeling to the company, which still employs him.

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- Manawatu Standard

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