Meat manufacturer ordered to pay $250,000 after worker loses four fingers

The worker was cleaning the machine when the accident took place.
The worker was cleaning the machine when the accident took place. Photo credit: File / Getty

A meat manufacturer has been ordered to pay more than $250,000 after a worker lost four fingers in a processing machine.

Hellers Limited was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court this week for the incident which occured in March 2019.

The worker was cleaning the machine when he reached in to clear meat from between a rotating paddle and the inside wall of the machine, WorkSafe said on Wednesday.

At that point his fingers became caught.

"The machine hadn’t been stopped correctly and it restarted as part of its cycle," WorkSafe said in a statement.

"Four fingers on the worker’s hand were immediately amputated. The worker's fingers were unable to be reattached. The machine has since been removed from production."

Steve Kelly, WorkSafe's chief inspector, said an investigation found the method of operating the machine had been unsafely adapted.

"Instead of accessing the machine via its raised platform and from behind an interlocked guard, a step ladder was used to gain access to an unguarded area of the machinery, against best practice and the direction of the manufacturer's operating manual.

 "The company's standard operating procedure and risk assessment for the machine were neither monitored or reviewed allowing this adapted method of cleaning the machine to go unchallenged and uncontrolled," said Kelly.

"Hellers' failures to ensure employees were carrying out work safely put workers at very serious risk, and in this instance, led to a worker suffering from life-changing injuries."

The company was fined $193,000 and ordered to pay $60,000 in reparations to the victim.