Alliance fined over worker's degloving

Alliance Group Ltd has been fined $60,000 after a worker suffered degloving and crushing injuries one day before a custom-made guard was due to be fitted to the machine he was cleaning.

Alliance Group was sentenced by Judge Robert Murfitt in the Invercargill District Court yesterday for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employee 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 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 to push the belt down with his right forearm and attempted to remove the stuck meat on the operating drive drum, the summary says.

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 and de-gloving injuries to his right hand and forearm and was taken to Southland Hospital before later being transferred to the Dunedin Hospital plastic surgery unit.

Judge Murfitt said the incident occurred one day before a custom-made guard was to be fitted to the machine to protect against such an event.

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

The company had 11 earlier convictions under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, from 1994 to 2010, which Alliance Group lawyer Kerry Smith had submitted could be seen, on one hand, as a negative factor but, on the other hand, not a bad record considering the scale of the company, Judge Murfitt said.

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

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

Mr Smith said the company had accepted that Mr Torotoro should receive emotional harm reparation.

The Southland Times