Two similar health and safety failings within three months have cost Rotorua timber company Claymark Limited more than $680,000 in fines, reparations, and costs.

Claymark was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court last Thursday after workers sustained serious injuries while operating machinery on two separate occasions.

In the most recent incident at the company's Vaughan Rd site, on March 16, 2017, a worker's hand was caught in machinery, an Optimiser, used to de-stack timber when he tried to reinstate a dislodged chain.

He lost the tips of his middle, index and little fingers.

Advertisement

His glove containing the amputated parts of his fingers was found wrapped around the chain drive by WorkSafe inspectors, the day after.

WorkSafe's investigation found there was inadequate guarding on the machinery and no documented safety procedures for workers to follow when a chain became dislodged.

For this, Claymark was fined $264,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $4000 in addition to $24,000 already paid.

The company was also ordered to pay the regulator's costs of $4654.50 and court costs of $135.

About three months earlier, on December 29, 2016, a worker's hand had to be amputated after it was drawn into a wood planer at the business's Kopu plant in Thames.

For this, Claymark was fined $330,000, ordered to pay reparations of $42,000 in addition to $10,000 already paid, and pay the regulator's $4654.50 costs.

WorkSafe's head of specialist interventions, Simon Humphries, said companies needed to learn from health and safety incidents.

"The first incident should have led Claymark to immediately review its health and safety procedures ... when the risk was identified as a result of the first incident, step one should have been to check guards were in place, ensure operators were properly trained in the machines' use and, critically, have effective emergency stop devices in place that workers are aware of."

Advertisement
Rotorua District Court. Photo / File
Rotorua District Court. Photo / File

In September last year, Claymark pleaded guilty to a charge relating to the serious workplace injury in Rotorua.

The summary of facts said an ambulance transported the worker to Rotorua Hospital where he underwent surgery on his hand. He had further surgery months later.

Since the accident, Claymark had made several changes to improve safety.

The worker had decided to fix the problem by climbing over the outfeed's barrier to reach the second chain drive and by placing the chain back on the chain drive using his right, gloved hand while the machine was running.

The worker had fixed the machinery by doing this previously, the summary said.

At the time of the accident, Claymark employed 600 workers at six sites in the North Island and was New Zealand's largest manufacturer and exporter of premium pine timber products.

The summary also said an emergency stop button that was closest to the worker had been damaged and the red "activating mushroom" was missing.

WorkSafe also found despite having a system for monitoring maintenance, including emergency stop buttons, repairs had not been made.

WorkSafe issued a prohibition notice on the Optimiser which required Claymark to install guarding, assess and install correct emergency stops and conduct a risk assessment of the machine.