Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Man's arm crushed in conveyor belt, awarded $52k compensation

Cody Mannell was trapped up to his shoulder in a conveyor belt and will suffer lifelong difficulties from the accident. Photo / 123RF
Cody Mannell was trapped up to his shoulder in a conveyor belt and will suffer lifelong difficulties from the accident. Photo / 123RF

A man whose arm was caught in a conveyor belt for about an hour has been awarded $52,000 compensation.

According to an April Waipukurau District Court decision, released publicly on Friday, Cody Mannell worked for agricultural fertiliser company Mainland Minerals North Island Limited.

Mannell was employed as a store-man at its Waipukurau facility and was operating a fertiliser sorting bin when the incident occurred in May 2015.

The conveyor belt was slipping and Mannell tried to fix this by placing a piece of timber beneath it.

"Mr Mannell got underneath the conveyer belt system in an attempt to rectify the problem. In doing that his arm was caught and he was pulled into a rotating drive shaft on a conveyor roller," the decision said.

He was trapped up to his shoulder and, with no one else present, he had the presence of mind to contact emergency services on his cell phone.

He suffered severe crush injuries to his left arm, including several compound fractures.

"There is a very graphic piece in the victim impact statement of him seeing pieces of his bone sticking out from his arm as he awaited rescue," the decision said.

He had undergone a number of operations and was unlikely to regain full function in the arm.

Judge Geoff Rea said there had been precious little - if any - training of Mannell, though he was an experienced operator. Nor was there any protection around the machinery.

"It was not guarded and the type of conduct undertaken by Mr Mannell to remove the product from the belt was dangerous in the extreme. In saying that I am not intending to blame Mr Mannell. The legislation requires the employer to have the proper structures in place to minimise and if possible eliminate the very sort of thing that occurred in this case."

Judge Rea ordered that the company pay him $45,000 emotional harm reparation and $6705 for unrecovered losses. The court was told that the company was insured for this.

In the April decision, Judge Rea did not address the issue of fines while the company's financial position was being assessed. Worksafe confirmed that none had been imposed.

"The court decided that while it was appropriate to fine the company, after considering the financial position of Mainland Minerals North Island Limited, it would not impose a fine," a Worksafe spokesman said.

The company declined to comment.

- NZ Herald

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