A Canterbury boss has been fined thousands of dollars after his employee's thumb was severed by an unguarded machine used to cut firewood.

Murray Crosland pleaded guilty and was fined $42,525 and ordered to pay $20,000 reparation to an injured employee after the worker's right thumb was cut off by a chainsaw.

The man's lower right arm was trapped in a Binderberger machine for cutting up firewood and when he tried to pull free and reach the emergency stop, the machine's chainsaw cut off his thumb and lacerated the tip of his index finger.

At the time of the incident, the machine's guards were left open and parts of the guards were also missing, a WorkSafe New Zealand investigation found.

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WorkSafe programme manager for manufacturing Marcus Nalter said proper machine guarding was an "absolute must when using dangerous gear such as a firewood processing machine".

"The state of the Binderberger machine was an obvious hazard and this should have been well known, as in 2009 an employee had their finger crushed by a log because a guard had been removed.

"Proper machine guards can prevent terrible accidents and injures - plain and simple," he said.

A sentencing was held at Christchurch District Court in late November with the judge's reserved decision released today.