Boiling brine at Heinz Wattie’s factory burns worker

Food manufacturer Heinz Wattie’s Limited appeared in the Hastings District Court yesterday after a boiling solution burned a worker’s lower legs.

Food manufacturer Heinz Wattie’s Limited appeared in the Hastings District Court today after a boiling solution burned a kitchen worker’s lower legs.

In May 2017, a vat used to manufacture brine solution for use in various food products at the company’s Hastings factory boiled over. While attempting to turn the machine off at a wall switch near the vat, boiling brine overflowed from the vat and entered a worker’s gumboots, causing severe burns.

Heinz Wattie’s was aware that the vats were likely to boil over if left unattended. It was also aware that this was capable of causing serious injury to workers, however Heinz Wattie’s failed to ensure the health and safety of its workers.

A WorkSafe investigation found these vats had boiled over on numerous occasions in the past, resulting in burns to another worker on one occasion.

The investigation also found the liquid entered the worker’s boots because the worker was not provided with adequate personal protective equipment, and the worker had not been given proper supervision or training.

Heinz Wattie’s Limited was fined $281,250 and ordered to pay reparation of $50,000 to the victim.

Head of Specialist Interventions Simon Humphries said Heinz Wattie’s Limited should have known better.

“These vats had reached boiling point on many occasions, putting workers at risk of serious harm. Our investigation found workers were simply told to avoid vats when they boiled over. Heinz Wattie’s should have had effective controls in place to eliminate the known risk to its workers.

“When you know there’s a problem, the law requires you to fix it. They didn’t and that is simply not acceptable.”

Notes:

  • A fine of $281,250 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $50,000 were ordered.
  • Heinz Wattie’s Limited was charged under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
    • Being a PCBU, failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers who worked for the PCBU, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, and that failure exposed any individual, to a risk of serious injury, arising from exposure to boiling liquid.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

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