An Whangarei engineering firm has been ordered to pay more than $70,000 after an employee injured an index finger which had to be partly amputated.

It was the second prosecution against Avon Industries in just over six years for breaches of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, with another worker losing part of his right index finger after an accident in 2009.

WorkSafe laid one charge of failing to take steps to ensure the safety of an employee against the company, which operates a metal manufacturing plant at Pipiwai Rd in Kamo, after Robert Panui injured his right index finger on September 30, 2014.

Avon Industries pleaded not guilty but was found liable after a hearing in the Whangarei District Court last October. The company appeared for sentencing on Friday.


Mr Panui was operating a 90-tonne press to produce 300 insulator Z-brackets by cutting up six-metre long lengths of flat steel. Steel is inserted through the front of the press until it hits a back-stopper before the press is operated and the appropriate length is cut.

Mr Panui had to reach in to the machine until he felt the back-stop and then held up the metal bar. He was injured after he instructed the person at the front of the machine to operate the press. His right index finger had to be amputated at the second knuckle.

WorkSafe lawyer Steve Symon said reparation of between $8000 and $10,000 would be sufficient.

Paul White, who represented Avon Industries, said his client made an effort to go to restorative justice which was declined by Mr Panui.

Judge Duncan Harvey said the company acted impeccably by co-operating with WorkSafe and supporting Mr Panui, including allowing more time for him to recover than stated by his medical certificate.

He said the injury happened because there was no rear guard on the machine and also due to a lack of training on its use. Both failings have now been rectified, he said.

Judge Harvey said it was a concern that another employee and safety adviser who observed unsafe practices neither prevented them nor reported them to anyone.

Avon Industries' level of culpability, he said, was moderate but its actions were a departure from best practice and extremely risky.


He said it was not a large company and many staff were dependent on it for their livelihood. Mr Panui is back working for Avon Industries.

Judge Harvey ordered Avon Industries to pay a $61,600 fine, $8000 in reparation, $1186 in prosecution costs and $130 in court costs.

In July 2009, another employee who was on a month's trial trapped his right index finger in a machine. As a result his finger required amputation at the first joint. The company was fined $42,500 for that breach.