Worker's arm almost severed

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 09:47 07/02/2012

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A South Pacific Meats worker is recovering at Southland Hospital after his arm was nearly severed by a bandsaw early on Saturday morning.

The man's wife yesterday said her husband was heavily sedated after two surgeries to repair his arm.

She had been notified of the injury soon after it happened by one of her husband's co-workers, she said.

The saw had gone through the bone at the elbow and was only attached by tissue, muscle, artery and nerve, she said.

He had gone through two operations to repair the arm on Saturday at Southland Hospital and had a blood transfusion on Sunday.

A third operation was a possibility, she said.

"The hope is that he will regain 95 per cent of movement within 18 months."

Her husband – who had worked for two seasons at South Pacific Meats – would probably never operate a saw again, she said.

She believed the incident was fatigue-related and management had been told of the issue last week, she said.

Operations manager Kevin Hamilton said the incident at the Awarua site – which happened in the boning room at 12.30am on Saturday – was caught on workplace video camera and an investigation was underway.

The incident had been reported to the Labour Department, he said.

The man began his shift at 4.30pm and had taken regular breaks, he said.

There were 55 other employees working the same shift, he said.

"More than enough."

Hamilton said he believed the incident was caused by lack of concentration.

"There are a lot of rumours flying around right now ... there are just the normal processes going on [to investigate] ... he's fine."

New Zealand Meatworkers Union Southland secretary Gary Davis said he was informed of the incident yesterday morning by text message but would wait for notice from the worker's family before getting involved.

He had not been surprised to hear there had been an incident and he believed they ran the chains too fast, didn't have enough staff and there wasn't enough training, he said.

In October, a private prosecution was brought by the New Zealand Meatworkers' Union accusing South Pacific Meats of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employee Henry Richmond Kingi, who severed part of his thumb on the main saw on January 13, 2010.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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