WorkSafe New Zealand is again warning businesses to be on alert for the dangers of moving machinery, after a worker had his arm amputated on the job at a concrete manufacturer in Manawatū.
The victim was working at Dunlop Drymix Limited in Feilding early one morning in November 2021. While cleaning a conveyor belt he reached to retrieve a dropped tool, and his right arm was grabbed by rollers which pulled him further into the machine. The victim was alone at the time and had to leave the area to look for help. Tragically, surgeons could not reattach his arm and he remains off work.
A WorkSafe investigation found the conveyor’s off switch was located in the next warehouse, and its emergency stop switch was completely disconnected and non-functional. Dunlop Drymix had no standard operating procedure for cleaning of the machine, insufficient risk assessment, and should have trained staff on safe ways to clean. The company has now been sentenced for its health and safety failures.
Protecting people from machines is a priority area for WorkSafe. Far too many workers are killed or injured this way, and harm can be prevented by businesses controlling how people interact with vehicles, machinery, and structures.
“This life-changing injury could have been avoided if the machinery was properly safeguarded to industry standards,” says WorkSafe’s area investigation manager, Paul Budd.
“Although a business might have standard operating procedures for machinery while it’s in use, it’s critical to think about how that extends to cleaning and maintenance too. Those uses can’t be dismissed as out of sight and out of mind because they are happening out of hours.
“Dunlop Drymix has now improved its health and safety systems, but their experience provides a timely warning for other businesses. Clear guidance and standards have been in place for many years, and the wider manufacturing industry needs to take notice,” says Paul Budd.
Read WorkSafe’s advice about safeguarding conveyors
- Dunlop Drymix Limited was sentenced at Palmerston North District Court on 19 October 2023.
- A fine of $540,000 was imposed, and reparations of $70,000 ordered
- Dunlop Drymix was charged under sections 36(1)(a) and 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
- Being a PCBU having a duty to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who work for the PCBU while at work in the business or undertaking, namely cleaning a conveyor, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of death or serious injury arising from exposure to a nip point on the conveyor.
- The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.