Needless accidents are damaging people's lives
Friday 19 March 2004
Occupational Safety and Health Regional Manager Faye Frelan is asking employers to take some simple steps to help keep their staff safe at work after two more successful prosecutions against Tauranga companies today.
Frelan says that in the Western Bay of Plenty region she knows of 18 serious accidents where the employee was using machinery that resulted in either amputation, crushing or severe laceration and seven serious accidents which involved a saw of some kind - which resulted in an injuries to the head, arms or legs.
After these prosecutions she is urging employers to do what they can to make machinery safe and train staff properly in how to use the machinery they work with.
She says that the cost of a workplace accident for a worker and their family can never be measured in dollars as an accident can often seriously damage a person's self-esteem and the way people interact with them.
"I have seen people who have lost their fingers arms, legs and have limbs crushed and this means that some can no longer work and provide for their family. I have heard of a man who lost his fingers and became depressed because he could no longer lift his twin children or work. I have heard of other cases where children have been teased at school because their parent looks yukky."
She says that these are the hidden costs that have significant meaning to people but have no dollar value assigned to them. "The real tragedy is that these accidents did not need to happen as everyone has the right to go to work and be safe."
The company, Invensys Appliance Controls New Zealand Ltd of Mount Maunganui, were charged under section 6 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act and sentenced to pay $9000, following an accident on an unguarded machine in the company mould shop.
Frelan says an employee was using the machine to put a thread into metal brackets when her hand became entangled in the rotating parts of the machine resulting in crush injuries to her left hand.
"This is another example of accident that did not need to happen. The company should have ensured that the machine had a guard to isolate the employee from the rotating parts - there is no excuse for an unguarded machine to be in the work place."
Claymark Sawmills Ltd were also sentenced to pay $9000 after a 16-year-old male employee suffered a severe laceration to the outside of his right thigh, which required approximately 50 stitches, after a skill saw kicked back when being put into wooden cradle.
The employee had had only been working for the company for 10 days.
Frelan says that the company failed to take a very simple practicable steps to ensure the safety of their employee, which meant training a new employee properly and to identify hazards."
"Companies must ensure that workplace hazards are identified and controlled correctly, and that their safety systems are constantly reviewed and updated."