New Zealand Timber Limited

Court Summary - at a glance

Date of offence:
18 December 2013
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Final decision date:
 
Fine imposed:
$51,000

Safety lessons learned:
  1. Ensure the installation of effective tunnel guarding on a saw to prevent employees coming in to contact with a rotating saw blade during the cutting cycle;
  2. Ensure that any “knee knock” activation switch is removed from a saw;
  3. Ensure the installation of a shrouded foot pedal on a saw;
  4. Ensure that the guarding on a saw meets the requirements of the AS4024 Safety of Machinery Standard and other relevant guidance material;
  5. Ensure that employees wear the correct safety glasses while operating saws;
  6. Ensure that employees are adequately trained and supervised on the use of machinery.

Defendant name:
New Zealand Timber Limited
 
Industry:
Forestry
 
Date of offence:
18 December 2013
 
Facts in brief:
The defendant company operates a timber treatment and processing facility.

The defendant company owns a rise and fall saw. A single piece of timber is fed into the saw by an operator from the right side of the plant called the in-feed position. The piece of timber passes over the saw bed. The saw blade is activated by the operator using a “knee knock” activation switch located on the front left side of the saw.

The victim became employed as a timber yard processing assistant four days before the incident.

On the day of the incident, the victim was re-cutting long timber batons to size with another worker. The victim was wearing sunglasses while working on the saw. During the processing, sawdust flicked off the blade into his eye. While wiping his eye, he inadvertently put his right hand on the saw bed over the blade slot.

As he leant forward, he accidently started the saw’s cutting cycle by hitting the “knee knock” activation switch with his leg. The saw blade rose through the blade slot as part of its cutting cycle and cut through the fingers and part of the thumb of his right hand.

As a result, the fingers and the tip of the thumb on the victim’s right hand were amputated.
 
Offence section:
Section 6 and section 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act
 
Date charged:

Court:
Hamilton - District Court
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Final decision date:
 
Decision:
Convicted
 
Fine imposed:
$51,000
 
Maximum fine available:
$250,000
 
Reparation:
$38,000