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Machine guarding no new phenomenon


New Zealand workplaces have been required to adequately guard machinery since the Machinery Act 1950 came into force.

Almost 70 years later, WorkSafe says workplaces still aren’t getting it right, with fatalities, amputations and injuries from machinery still a reality for too many New Zealand workers.

The message is prompted by the results of two sentencings in Invercargill District Court released this week, both relating to inadequate machine guarding. Niagara Sawmilling Company Limited appeared in court on February 13 and Marshall Industries Limited appeared on February 27.

In October 2016 a worker at Niagara Sawmill had his hand drawn into the gap between a roller and a metal plate on a wood processing machine. Two fingers were left damaged and required surgical amputation.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that failure to adequately guard the machine, a well-known hazard in sawmills, had exposed the worker to risk of serious injury. While there was guarding on the right hand side of the machine, this was not installed on the left, which allowed the worker’s hand to connect with the roller.

In May 2016 a worker for Marshall Industries was using a press style machine to create tray clips used in roofing. The worker had made a number of clips when the material got stuck. After attempting to free a jammed clip with some wire, the worker reached up through the outlet chute with his hand. This was not adequately guarded. The worker inadvertently made contact with the controls and the press activated, amputating four digit tips from his right hand.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that Marshall Industries exposed their worker to the risk of serious injury, specifically the risk of crushing between the accessible tool and die of the press, and departed from industry standards for safe use of machinery.

“Being injured on machinery and providing guarding is no new phenomenon” says WorkSafe Deputy General Manager, Investigations and Specialist Services, Simon Humphries.

“Ineffective or absent guarding is still taking and changing lives. You are required under the law to ensure your machinery is safe to use and to eliminate or minimise any risks wherever reasonably practicable.

“If you purchase unsafe machinery, it is still your responsibility to bring it up to a safe standard that protects your workers from harm”.

WorkSafe’s Safe Use of Machinery Guide is available here.

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