A Napier meat processing facility has been fined $293,000 over an incident in November of 2018 that saw a worker’s hand trapped in machinery for more than ten minutes.
The woman is likely to never regain the use of her hand after it was trapped in a chain at the site, while the New Zealand workplace safety regulator has explained that the incident was wholly preventable if the correct safety guards had been in place at the time.
The company responsible, Fresh Meats NZ, faced the Napier District Court on Friday and was fined $293,000 in fines, including $40,000 in reparations for the injured worker.
On the day of the incident, the worker was injured when she was cleaning chains used to move animal carcases throughout the facility, and her arm was trapped in the moving parts. It took her co-workers more than 10 minutes to help free the hand.
The injuries suffered including extensive lacerations to muscles, tendons, bones, blood vessels and nerves throughout her hand and wrist, and she is unlikely to regain the use of her hand.
WorkSafe New Zealand acting chief inspector Danielle Henry explained that had the machinery had adequate safety guards in place, the incident could have been prevented.
“The importance of machine guarding has been a focus area across all industries for many years.
“Though a task instruction sheet prepared by the company clearly stated that machinery should only be cleaned when it was turned off, our investigation found it was common practice for staff to clean the machinery while it was moving.”
Injuries in meat processing facilities are not uncommon. In the United States, the rate of injury in abattoirs is three times higher than the national average, with those working on larger animals like pigs and cattle almost seven times as likely to be injured at work than the average American employee. According to the most recent data on meat processing in America, amputations occur on average twice a week.