New Zealand Law Society - Firm pays reparations but not fined over oven incident

Firm pays reparations but not fined over oven incident

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A South Island firm has been ordered to pay reparations for an accident involving an oven which had “multiple sources of risk”, WorkSafe has reported.

It says Miller Foods Ltd, trading as Remarkable Tortillas, was sentenced in the Queenstown District Court following the incident that left a worker’s arm trapped in an oven that was aflame.

The worker was cooking tortillas when his glove became caught and his right arm was drawn into the oven. Colleagues freed the man’s arm, but were not immediately aware of what to do in an emergency.

WorkSafe’s investigation found that Remarkable Tortillas had inadequate health and safety systems, failed to ensure a risk assessment of the machinery was carried out, failed to provide suitable guarding, and failed to ensure that workers were adequately trained and were aware of an appropriate emergency system.

“This was a piece of machinery loaded with risks,” says WorkSafe Deputy General Manager, Investigations and Specialist Services, Simon Humphries.

“The gas burners, the moving conveyer belt and the inadequate machine guarding all contributed to an incident that was entirely avoidable. Tortillas getting jammed was a known issue but there was no safe system in place for managing the problem.”

Remarkable Tortillas have since installed an interlocking guard.

WorkSafe says no fine was imposed and the reasons for this were suppressed by the court. The court said had a fine been payable, it would have been $337,500.

Reparations of $52,282 were ordered and payable.

Miller Foods Limited trading as Remarkable Tortillas was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

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