Payout for worker after Sanford fish factory accident

The potential hazard in having an "inadequately guarded blade" on the fish de-heading machine was not properly managed, WorkSafe found. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The potential hazard in having an "inadequately guarded blade" on the fish de-heading machine was not properly managed, WorkSafe found. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A worker injured while using a fish de-heading machine is set to receive more than $30,000 in reparations from his employers.

On-hire labour company AWF Limited and Sanford Limited have been ordered to pay reparations of $30,126 to the man, who was injured last June.

Both companies - who have also been fined a total of just over $90,000 - pleaded guilty to charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of the worker.

[He] reached into the machine to try and remove it. In the process, he inadvertently turned on the machine - causing the machine's blade to come down and cut his right forearm.
WorkSafe statement

WorkSafe New Zealand, which carried out an investigation into the incident, said the man, an AWF employee, had been working as a chiller-hand at Sanford Bluff processing factory when the accident happened.

While de-heading fish using the manual fish de-header machine, a fish head became stuck.

"[He] reached into the machine to try and remove it. In the process, he inadvertently turned on the machine - causing the machine's blade to come down and cut his right forearm," a WorkSafe statement said.

The blade sliced through muscles, an artery and tendons. He suffered four fractures and had to have a plate put into his arm for about 10 months.

WorkSafe said AWF had not completed a site visit to identify any high risk hazards before the man - an on-hire employee - started working at the site.

No detailed job description for the role was requested and there were no adequate assessments done about the workplace or what the worker should do in certain circumstances.

Sanford was also found to have not properly managed the potential hazard in having an "inadequately guarded blade" on the fish de-heading machine - which was earlier categorised as being a 5/5 hazard risk.

"Despite Sanford being aware of this risk, the company continued to keep the machine in operation, and did not inform all people working nearby the machine of the identified hazard."

WorkSafe chief inspector Keith Stewart said: "Both parties failed in their duties to their employee. AWF should have ensured the employee was assigned to a safe work environment, while Sanford should have made sure that people in the workplace were aware of the blade hazard and were not exposed to direct contact with the blade.

"The consequences for the victim continue to hinder his day-to-day life. It's been almost a year since this incident occurred and the victim has not regained full use of his hand."

- NZ Herald

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