Arm amputation accident highlights importance of machine guarding
30 July 2012
A Christchurch company and one of its directors have been prosecuted after an employee lost his arm when it became trapped for several hours in a tree shredding machine.
Canterbury Greenwaste Processors Limited and one of its directors Luke Charles Kepple were convicted and ordered to pay fines totalling $100,000 and reparations totalling $25,000 following the incident which happened in September last year.
The Christchurch District Court heard that the victim was processing greenwaste using a ‘ripper’ – a truck mounted shredding machine – and was operating a crane to lift unprocessed greenwaste into the machine’s hopper.
After climbing down from the crane cab, the worker tripped on the ground next to the truck and put his arm out to steady himself. His arm became entangled in the nip point of the unguarded conveyor belt used to transfer the processed waste away from the ripper.
“The worker remained trapped in the conveyor for several hours until emergency services were able to free the remains of his arm, which was later amputated in hospital,” says Southern General Manager for the Labour Group of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Jean Martin.
“This worker experienced injury and trauma that no person should ever be subjected too,” Ms Martin says.
“The MBIE has a nationwide compliance project underway to reduce the unacceptably high level of fatal and serious harm injuries associated with the unsafe use of machinery. We expect all employers to take the minimum steps required to prevent harm to their employee – particularly where exposed machinery is concerned. Unfortunately, MBIE’s investigation into the incident found that Greenwaste and one of its directors had failed to do so,” she says.
“This accident could have been avoided if the company had put in place adequate machine guarding, carried out regular hazard checks, and put in place safe operating procedures for using the machinery. It should also have provided safety warning signs and measures for ensuring the ripper could be safely shut off.
“We encourage all employers to familiarise themselves with the health and safety information available on MBIE’s website, particularly that about machine guarding,” Ms Martin says.
Notes to Editor
- The District Court has made an order forbidding publication of the name of this accident victim and any details which are not already in the public domain that could identify him.
- Canterbury Greenwaste Processors Limited and its director Luke Charles Kepple appeared in the Christchurch District Court on Friday 27 July.
- Canterbury Greenwaste Processors Limited was charged with one offence under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
- As a director of the company, Luke Charles Kepple was also charged with one offence under Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.
- Section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 states: Every employer shall take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of employees while at work; and in particular shall take all practicable steps to —
- (a) provide and maintain for employees a safe working environment; and
- (b) provide and maintain for employees while they are at work facilities for their safety and health; and
- (c) ensure that plant used by any employee at work is so arranged, designed, made, and maintained that it is safe for the employee to use; and
- (d) ensure that while at work employees are not exposed to hazards arising out of the arrangement, disposal, manipulation, organisation, processing, storage, transport, working, or use of things—
- (i) in their place of work; or
- (ii) near their place of work and under the employer's control; and
- (e) develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise while employees are at work.
- The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 is available online.
- MBIE has developed a series of factsheets to help businesses ensure their machinery is adequately guarded, and their employees are safe.