New Zealand Law Society - Packaging company prosecuted after warnings ignored

Packaging company prosecuted after warnings ignored

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WorkSafe NZ says a food packaging company failed to learn from a series of health and safety warnings issued over a three-year period until a worker suffered a serious accident.

WorkSafe says, in a decision released by the Albany District Court, Alto Packaging Ltd was fined $250,000, and ordered to pay reparation of $32,500 after an incident in October 2017 in which a worker’s fingers were caught in a machine used for food packaging.

The tips of two of the worker’s right fingers were later amputated. A WorkSafe investigation found the machine was not adequately safeguarded, which allowed the worker to access counter-rotating rollers in the machine.

The company had trained some of its staff on how to use machines, but failed to ensure machinery was adequately guarded.

Alto Packaging has more than 20 sites across the country and between 2014 and October 2017, WorkSafe issued the company with nine Improvement Notices and one Prohibition Notice. The majority of these notices related to machine guarding issues.

WorkSafe Chief Inspector Specialist Interventions Hayden Mander says Alto Packaging should have been aware of the risks involved with working around unguarded machinery. 

“This company has not learned from its previous failings. If you’ve been subject to 10 notices for health and safety failings since 2014, you’ve got to know you’re not doing something right.

“The right response to this alarming record should have been a company-wide review of its machine guarding - instead a worker has been left with life-changing injuries,” he says.