Meat manufacturer Hellers Limited has been ordered to pay more than $250,000 after a worker lost four fingers in a machine used to process meat.

Hellers was sentenced for health and safety failures at the Christchurch District Court, and ordered to pay a fine of $193,500 and reparation of $60,000 to the worker.

The incident occurred in March 2019 when the worker, while cleaning a machine, reached in to clear meat from between a rotating paddle and the inside wall of the machine, when his fingers became caught.

The machine hadn't been stopped correctly and it restarted as part of its cycle. Four fingers on the worker's hand were immediately amputated, and his fingers were unable to be reattached.


The machine has since been removed from production.

Steve Kelly, WorkSafe's chief inspector, said an investigation found the method of operating the machine had been unsafely adapted.

"Instead of accessing the machine via its raised platform and from behind an interlocked guard, a step ladder was used to gain access to an unguarded area of the machinery, against best practice and the direction of the manufacturers operating manual.

"The company's standard operating procedure and risk assessment for the machine were neither monitored or reviewed allowing this adapted method of cleaning the machine to go unchallenged and uncontrolled.

"Hellers' failures to ensure employees were carrying out work safely put workers at very serious risk, and in this instance, led to a worker suffering from life changing injuries."