Sanford, Pelco pay $10,000 to hurt employee

Last updated 15:35 23/01/2013

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Fishing company Sanford and fish processing company Pelco have been ordered to pay reparation to a 22-year-old woman who had the skin ripped off her hand after it was caught in a winch.

Both companies pleaded guilty to the December, 2011, incident, and were ordered at the Tauranga District Court yesterday to pay $5000 each to the Pelco employee.

Sanford was also fined $32,500 and Pelco was fined $22,500, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) said.

The Pelco employee was working on Sanford vessel Ocean Breeze at Mount Maunganui Wharf unloading tuna in to a bucket when the bucket caught on a rope and her hand was dragged into a winch, a MNZ spokesman said.

Essentially, her hand was "de-gloved", where the skin is ripped off it, the spokesman said.

The woman was freed and taken to hospital, and spent 30 days off work. It was understood she had since made a full recovery.

It was not clear if she returned to work for Pelco.

"The whole safety of the operation is the responsibility of Pelco as they are responsible for looking after their employees and Sanford is responsible for ensuring the workers are working in a safe environment," the spokesman said.

Both companies were prosecuted under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, for failing to take all practical steps to ensure the safety of people working on the job.

MNZ intelligence and planning manager Paul Fantham said the prosecution highlighted the importance of ensuring workplace safety on ships.

"This is an excellent result for both MNZ and the victim," he said. "Both companies had a responsibility under the HSE Act to ensure those working to unload this vessel could do so safely.

"We welcome the guilty pleas which are an acknowledgement that processes should have been better."

The fine imposed on Sanford yesterday was the second in less than two weeks.

The company was fined US$1.9 million ($2.3 million) earlier this month for dumping oil waste at sea then attempting to cover it up. 

US District Court Judge Beryl Howell also put the company on a three year probation from fishing in US waters.

The penalties were the result of the company being found guilty last year of seven charges relating to the running of a tuna boat.

US Coast Guard inspectors witnesses crew clearing a bilge by pumping directly overboard without using the oil water separator when the boat was at Pago Pago, American Samoa.

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