Silver Fern Farms Limited

Court Summary - at a glance

Date of offence:
8 June 2015
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Decision:
• Convicted on s 6 offence
• Reg 16 charge withdrawn
 
Final decision date:
 
Fine imposed:
$38,500

Safety lessons learned:
  1. Ensure that redundant electrical cables are disconnected, traced back and completely removed where possible. If not possible, they should be terminated, isolated from unintended contact and clearly labelled;
  2. Ensure that redundant switches are either disconnected and either removed; or if not possible locked out and tagged ‘out of service’;
  3. Undertake both routine electrical audits and periodic verification inspections and testing of electrical installations as currently detailed in Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 3019:2007 “Electrical installations – Periodic verification”;
  4. Follow established industry best practice for locking out, tagging and securing switchboards, switchgear and switchboard rooms;
  5. Ensure that schematics of electrical installations are kept up to date and the plant routinely checked against these records;
  6. Ensure that maintenance log books are kept up to date and modifications to electrical installations are documented;
  7. Ensure that Job Safety Analysis and task instructions are in place for cleaning tasks; and
  8. Ensure that employees are adequately trained in working around electrical installations.

Defendant name:
Silver Fern Farms Limited
 
Industry:
Manufacturing
 
Date of offence:
8 June 2015
 
Facts in brief:
The Defendant company operates meat processing plants throughout New Zealand, including the Fairton plant near Ashburton.

Approximately 10 years before the incident, electrical works were carried out in one of the Fairton plant’s switchboard rooms. During this, a redundant electrical cable was partially removed, by cutting it off at floor level, leaving its inner wiring exposed and unprotected, facing upwards in the room’s concrete floor.

The other end of the same cable remained connected to another of the plants switchboards, so that that cable was left live, carrying a 400 volt three phase supply.

On the day of the incident, the victim, an employee of the Defendant, was carrying out cleaning work in the switchboard room. When the victim bent down to use a small hearth brush to clean the area around the exposed live cable, he made contact with the cable and an electrical flashover occurred.

The victim was knocked over by the force of the explosion and sustained burns to his face and both hands.
 
Offence section:
• Sections 6 and 50(1)(a) of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
• Regulation 16 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010
 
Date charged:

Court:
Ashburton - District Court
 
Plea:
Guilty
 
Final decision date:
 
Decision:
• Convicted on s 6 offence
• Reg 16 charge withdrawn
 
Fine imposed:
$38,500
 
Maximum fine available:
$250,000
 
Reparation:
$12,500 (including $10,000 previously paid)