Taranaki sawmill fined $230,000 after worker loses three fingers on the job

The incident in question occurred in February 2018.
The incident in question occurred in February 2018. Photo credit: Getty

A sawmill in Taranaki has been fined $231,000 after a worker lost three fingers on the job in 2018.

Taranaki Sawmills Limited was sentenced on Thursday at the New Plymouth District Court.

As well as the fine, the company was also ordered to pay reparations of $43,292 (including $15,000 already paid to the victim) and $3292 in consequential losses.

The incident took place in February, 2018 and involved a worker who was only seven weeks into his first job.

The worker was operating a large finger-jointing machine when it became jammed, WorkSafe said on Friday. 

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."

An investigation by WorkSafe revealed there was no effective guarding or emergency stops on the machine.

"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," said Danielle Henry, WorkSafe's acting chief inspector. 

 "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."