Company with 20 previous health and safety convictions fined

A North Island wood processing company with 20 previous health and safety convictions over the last two decades has landed in front of the courts again.

Juken New Zealand Limited was sentenced at the Kaitaia District Court yesterday, following an incident which saw a worker suffer serious steam burns.

In July 2017 a worker was replacing a heat probe inside of an enclosed Triboard manufacturing press, when the press was switched on, engulfing him in hot steam.

As a result of the incident, the worker suffered third-degree burns to his hands and wrists, superficial burns to his face and inhalation burns to his throat, lungs and stomach. It remains unclear whether he will regain full function of his hands.

A WorkSafe investigation found that Juken had inadequate health and safety systems in place, failed to provide appropriate controls to ensure the press was prevented from start-up while work was being carried out inside of it, and failed to provide information, training and instructions to protect workers from risks associated with the press.

Juken New Zealand Limited was fined $365,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $60,000. 

Head of Specialist Interventions Simon Humphries said despite having 20 previous health and safety convictions, Juken New Zealand Limited has still fallen below the standard of health and safety.

“This company should have learnt from its previous history, but instead another worker has suffered from life changing injuries.

“If you have dangerous areas in your workplace from which workers should be excluded, now is the time to put systems in place to ensure they cannot be put in harm’s way. Ensure that the area is clearly labelled as dangerous, that access is restricted and that your workers are advised on appropriate procedures when access is required.”

Notes:

  • A fine of $365,000 was imposed.
  • Reparation of $60,000 was ordered.
  • The company was sentenced 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 work for the PCBU, while the workers were at work in the business or undertaking, namely while working in the upper level of the enclosed press, did fail to comply with that duty, and that failure exposed the workers to a risk of serious injury or death.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

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