Timber company fined after two workers sustain serious injuries

Two similar health and safety failings within three months have cost Rotorua timber company Claymark Limited over $680,000 in fines, reparations and costs.

WorkSafe says that one serious injury on a company’s watch is bad enough, but that a second in close succession shows an unacceptable approach to worker safety.

Claymark was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court yesterday after two of its workers sustained serious injuries while operating machinery on two separate occasions.

In the most recent incident at the company’s Vaughan Road site in Rotorua, a worker had his hand caught in machinery used to de-stack timber when trying to reinstate a dislodged chain. The worker lost the tips of his middle, index and little fingers as a result of the incident.

WorkSafe’s investigation found there was inadequate guarding on the machinery and no documented safe procedures for workers to follow when a chain became dislodged. The injured worker had also not been trained on the location of the emergency stop buttons on the machine (one of which was not fully operative or clearly marked). For this incident, Claymark was fined $264,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $4,000 in addition to $24,000 already paid.

Less than three months earlier in December 2016 a worker’s hand had to be amputated after it was drawn into a wood planer at the business’ Kopu plant in Thames. A WorkSafe investigation found the planer was not appropriately guarded at the time of the incident (the guard supplied by the manufacturer was located by WorkSafe inspectors sitting in a cupboard above the planer) and there was no system of regular inspection to ensure guards were present and functional. For this incident, Claymark was fined $330,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $42,000 in addition to $10,000 already paid.

WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions Simon Humphries says companies must learn from health and safety incidents.

“The first incident should have led Claymark to immediately review its health and safety procedures across its plants and ensure machines were properly guarded.

“When the risk was identified as a result of the first incident, step one should have been to check guards were in place, ensure operators were properly trained in the machines’ use and, critically, have effective emergency stop devices in place that workers are aware of.”

Notes:

Charge 1: Incident of 29 December 2016

  • A fine of $330,000 was imposed.
  • Reparations of $42,000 were ordered ($10,000 had already been paid to the worker by Claymark prior to sentencing).
  • Claymark Ltd 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, namely operating the Weinig Planer H30n, and that failure exposed any individual to a risk of death or serious injury.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.

Charge 2: Incident of 16 March 2017

  • A fine of $264,000 was imposed.
  • Reparations of $4,000 were ordered ($24,000 had already been paid to the worker by Claymark prior to sentencing).
  • Claymark Ltd 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 and that failure exposed workers to a risk of serious injury.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $1,500,000.