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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



OSH Tracker

Department of Labour v McFarlane Laboratories NZ Ltd (DC, 23/10/97)

OSH Tracker

Defendant:
McFarlane Laboratories NZ
A company which pleaded guilty to a s6 charge but claimed its injured employee had not suffered serious harm in terms of the HSE Act had its argument dismissed in court. The man lost the very tip of his middle finger in a mincer machine. Health supplement manufacturer MCFARLANE LABORATORIES NZ LTD was fined $10,000 on the s6 charge, and a further $1500 on a s25(3)(a) charge that it had failed to notify a serious harm accident as soon as possible. The company was also convicted and discharged on a s25(3)(b) charge that it had failed to give written notice of the accident within seven days. A charge under s7 was withdrawn. The injured worker was awarded $6000 of the fine. The accident happened in January 1997 when the man was feeding shark cartilage into the mincing machine. He pushed a piece of cartilage down the throat of the mincer with his gloved hand. The glove caught in the mincer and pulled his finger into the auger screw. He was able to turn off the machine, which was unguarded at the time. A previous guard which would have prevented access to the auger had broken or fallen off. No push stick was available. The defendant said it did not inform OSH because it did not believe the man's injury constituted serious harm under the First Schedule of the HSE Act. It called specialist medical evidence to show the amputation was minor in medical terms, and argued that a graze would fit within the medical definition of minor amputation. For that reason it defended the two charges brought under s25 of the act. In the Auckland District Court on 23 October, however, Judge Hubble held that there was no basis for departing from the words of paragraph two of the First Schedule, which says that any amputation of a body part constitutes serious harm. While the man's injury was at the low end of serious harm, the breach itself was not. The throat of the mincer was an obvious danger and the accident should not have happened. He confirmed the penalty range for a medium to serious s6 breach was between $10,000 and $20,000, and concluded that this case was at the lower end of that range. 
Industry:
Manufacturing
Sub-Industry:
Food, Beverage and Tobacco
Risk:
Machinery (trapped, crushed, cuts)
Harm:
Injury
Penalty Amount:
$11500.00
Reparation Amount:
$6000.00
Appeared in Safeguard issue 47

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