An accident in which a man lost three toes on his first day of work has cost a Northland stevedoring company more than $50,000.

Northland Stevedoring Services Limited today pleaded guilty in Whangarei District Court to a charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 over the incident that happened at Northport Wharf, Marsden Point, on November 15 last year.

The company was fined $37,500 and ordered to pay $15,000 reparation.

The court was told the worker's right foot became trapped between the wharf buffer and a vessel as he passed a piece of timber to a colleague.

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"Just as the employee stepped onto the wharf buffer, a container was lifted off the vessel, causing the vessel to lean towards the buffer, crushing his right foot," said Department of Labour Whangarei service manager Rod Gibbon.

"The employee had no previous experience in cargo handling and should have had direct supervision until he had the knowledge and experience to carry out the work safely."

Mr Gibbon said the company had identified the hazard of the trapping point but had left the employee completely unprepared for dealing with the hazard, resulting in him losing three toes.

Since the accident, the company had ensured that new employees were adequately supervised and warned about the hazard of the trapping point. It had also placed extra signage on gangways to ensure that employees used them to access ships.

- NZPA