Pitiful fine for workplace death

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The family of a woman killed as a result of operating unguarded machinery at a Kiwi Lumber sawmill has been awarded $263,000 as compensation by Masterton District Court. The company was ordered to pay the reparation in addition to a fine of $350,000 (meaning a government department was awarded more than the victim’s family).

WorkSafe’s investigation found that when the un-named woman accessed the machine in November 2018 to clear a jam, it restarted and she was pulled into the machine’s sprockets killing her.

WorkSafe’s chief inspector Steve Kelly says the incident highlights the need to ensure machinery was guarded.

“This particular machine stretched across multiple buildings at the sawmill. Its sheer size meant workers had to interact with it at different locations and it could only be re-started from one point,” he said. “Had appropriate guarding been in place, this woman might still be alive today. The worker shouldn’t have been able to access the machine so easily.

“Our message to all businesses is simple – if your worker has to interact with machinery then it must be guarded. The more human interaction needed around machinery, the more vital it is there is adequate guarding in place.”

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