A timber processing company has been fined $44,000 and ordered to pay $20,000 in reparation after a contractor lost four fingers in a wood chipper.

The Whangarei District Court has heard that the contractor was changing the blades in the chipper at Carter Holt Harvey's Marsden Point timber plant.

As he cleaned off dust and debris with a compressed air device, the drum holding the blades he was intending to replace was still rotating.

The rotating drum came into contact with the air hose he was holding and dragged his right hand into the machine, amputating four fingers.


Carter Holt Harvey has been fined for the incident and ordered to pay reparation to the contractor.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment health and safety manager John Howard said the maintenance was not carried out according to procedure.

"An interlock device would have prevented this accident by stopping the chipper hood from being opened to expose the blades when the drum was still rotating," he said.

"Even though the principles of machine guarding are well known, people are still seriously injured and killed because machines are poorly guarded or not guarded at all.

"It is essential that all those with duties under the Health and Safety in Employment Act understand the hazards associated with the use of machinery in the workplace."