Alliance to pay $20k to worker

Last updated 16:58 13/12/2012

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Alliance Group Limited was today fined $60,000 after a worker had his hand de-gloved and crushing injuries one day before a custom-made guard was due to be fitted to the machine.

Alliance Group appeared before Judge Murfitt in the Invercargill District Court for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee, namely Stephen Tumaru Torotoro, on December 17 last year.

The company was fined $60,000 and ordered to pay $20,000 emotional harm reparation.

The summary of facts says at the end of a night shift Mr Torotoro, who was employed as a process worker in the role of tally boner, was cleaning the bottom level waste belt when he noticed a piece of meat stuck on the drive drum roller.

He knelt down, reached in with his left arm to push the belt down and with his right forearm attempted to remove the stuck meat on the operating drive drum, the summary says.

His gloved right hand contacted the exposed trapping/nip point between the rotating drive drum roller and the rotating belt.

His right hand and arm were dragged in and trapped against the drive drum roller. Another worker immediately turned the conveyor off when he noticed what had happened and another colleague managed to release him by quickly turning the conveyor on and off, the summary says.

Mr Torotoro suffered crushing/de-gloving injuries to his right hand and forearm and was transferred from Southland Hospital to the Dunedin Hospital Plastic Surgery Unit, it says.

Judge Murfitt said the accident occurred one day before a custom-made guard was to be fitted to the machine protect against such an accident occurring in the vicinity of the drum of the conveyor belt, which Mr Torotoro had been cleaning.

Mr Torotoro still suffered significant injuries although he had been having the best of medical care, operations and post-accident treatment, he said.

The company had 11 prior convictions under the Health and Safety in Employment Act between 1994 and 2010, which Alliance Group's lawyer Kerry Smith today said was, on one hand, a negative factor but on the other not a bad record considering the scale of the company.

The company had since carried out staff training, upgraded the plant to address and identify risks as well as the installation of protective aspects of machinery, Judge Murfitt said.

Significant efforts had also been made by the company to assist in Mr Torotoro's rehabilitation, he said.

Alliance Group lawyer Kerry Smith said the company had accepted Mr Torotoro should receive emotional harm reparation.

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- The Southland Times

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