Fine for lost finger

03:09, Jan 23 2014

Normally it is animals facing the chop in slaughterhouses but one worker found his finger on the block.

The man was collecting blood from slaughtered animals at meat processor Riverlands Eltham Ltd in Taranaki when his finger became caught in a conveyor belt.

He lost the end of his right index finger and Riverlands has been ordered to pay him $12,500 in reparations.

The company was convicted in the New Plymouth District Court on December 5 last year on one charge of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of the employee while at work.

As well as the reparations, Riverlands has been fined $42,500.

Judge Max Courtney said notwithstanding the victim's action in putting his hand on the conveyor, the company did not take all practicable steps to protect him by ensuring the machine was guarded, that it had a start warning system and that it had an emergency stop button in an accessible position.

Worksafe New Zealand chief inspector Keith Stewart said the worker had been unnecessarily injured because Riverlands lacked sufficient safety protocols.

"It is notable that on the day of the accident the company installed a guard on the machine.

"It was too little too late for the worker.

"Relying on the old adage 'it has not happened before' as a justification for not taking foreseeable safety steps is proven by this case to be bad safety and business judgement."

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