Businesses must ensure machines are guarded to highest standard

15 September 2020

A worker who was seven weeks into his first job has been left unable to return to work after he lost three fingers and part of his palm as the result of a traumatic amputation in unguarded machinery.

Yesterday, Taranaki Sawmills Limited was sentenced at the New Plymouth District Court for failing to ensure the machine was safe for workers to operate and WorkSafe is now reminding all businesses that machinery must be guarded to the highest standard for all aspects of work carried out on the plant.

In February 2018 the worker was operating a large finger-jointing machine when it became jammed. When the worker went to clear the jam his arm became caught, and was exposed to cutting tools. As a result, three of his fingers were amputated along with two thirds of the palm on his right hand. He has been unable to return to work since the incident.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that where the worker was attempting to clear the jam there was no effective guarding or emergency stops on the machine, said Acting Chief Inspector Danielle Henry.

“In this instance there was more than one location workers were required to operate the machine from and the company had failed to guard the machine for each location.

“The manufacturing industry needs to be placing the importance of risk assessment and continuous review of their controls high on their agendas.

“Time and time again we are seeing workers sustain life changing injury as a result of operating unguarded machinery. What makes this even more tragic is this young worker has had his career cut short.”


  • A fine of $231,000 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $43,292 (including $15,000 already paid to the victim and $3292 in consequential loss) was ordered.
  • Taranaki Sawmills Limited were sentenced under sections 36(1)(a), 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 is reasonably practicable the safety of workers who work for the PCBU, while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking, namely while operating a finger jointing machine, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of serious injury arising from exposure to a crushing and/or cutting hazard created by unguarded moving carriages and cutting implements.
  • S 48(2)(c) carries a maximum penalty of $1.5 million.
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Source: WorkSafe

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