Company and director fined $155,000 after parts of worker's fingers amputated following metal press injury

Kimberley Tool and Design, in Waihi.
Kimberley Tool and Design, in Waihi. Photo credit: Google Maps

A company and director has been fined $155,000 after parts of a worker's fingers had to be amputated following a workplace injury.

Director Jon-Brian Parker and Waihi company Kimberley Tool and Design were sentenced and fined in Tauranga District Court on Monday over an incident in November 2018 where a worker suffered crushing injuries while operating a metal press. The ends of his right middle and ring fingers were amputated as a result.

WorkSafe investigated the incident and found the press wasn't properly guarded and didn't have the required emergency stop button. The investigation also found the machine hadn't operated as expected in the past and this wasn't identified as a risk.

Parker was fined $35,000 and Kimberley Tool and Design was fined $120,000. Parker's maximum penalty for his charge was $300,000, and the company's was $1.5 million.

In a written statement, Simon Humphries, WorkSafe's head of specialist interventions at the time of the accident, says the company's induction and staff training was haphazard and undocumented, and they couldn't show any evidence of the victim having been properly trained in using the press.

"What makes this case all the more concerning is that the company has had two previous convictions for incidents involving presses and injuries to workers' hands and fingers," Humphries says.

"At the time of the incident the company was also non-compliant with three WorkSafe Improvement Notices relating to non-implementation of a health and safety manual; inadequate safe operating procedure; and training issues.

"With that history, Mr Parker should have known he had to step up and fix the litany of problems evident in his business. He did not, and a worker was unnecessarily injured."

Humphries says Parker's prosecution serves as a warning to other company directors that if they aren't making sure their operations are safe and healthy, they face enforcement under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

"Directors have explicit legal duties to undertake due diligence on their company's adherence to health and safety obligations and failing to do so not only puts their workers at risk, but it also puts them in our sights," Humphries says.

"As governors of their businesses, they have more ability than anyone else to influence their business' operations to ensure they're taking all the steps required to protect workers and others on their sites from health and safety risks. If they're not doing so, they're failing in their duties."