Auckland steel company fined $220k after worker’s leg crushed, resulting in amputation

An Auckland-based steel company has been fined $220,000 following an August 2018 incident that resulted in a worker losing his left leg. 

A file image of a judge's gavel. Source: 1 NEWS

The D & H Steel Construction Limited worker was pulled onto a machine’s roller table, WorkSafe said. The machine is used for drilling, sawing and fabricating steel.

The incident occurred as the worker accessed the machine’s operating area, and the machine started.

WorkSafe said the worker then became trapped between a steel beam and the roller table. 

He suffered multiple injuries in his left leg and pelvis. His leg was amputated.

In a decision released by Waitakere District Court this week, an investigation found the company failed to make sure a machine was "adequately guarded", WorkSafe area manager Danielle Henry said.

"Workers were exposed to unguarded trapping points, crushing points and moving parts, leading to a risk of entanglement. 

"Our investigation found workers were routinely required to access the machine’s operating area to adjust or replace drill bits or repair faults, while the machine was electronically locked out. 

"However, there was inadequate guarding in place to prevent the worker from accessing the operating area if the machine's automatic lockout failed."

She said the company should have made sure workers weren’t able to reach dangerous moving parts. 

No reparation was ordered of the company as $172,000 had been paid to the victim for emotional harm and consequential loss before sentencing.

D & H Steel Construction appeared in the Waitakere District Court on 29 October for sentencing. 

The company was sentenced under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

In a statement D & H Steel Construction said: "The structural steel contractor has taken full responsibility for the incident. It entered a guilty plea and accepts the sentence the Court has handed down. The company has cooperated fully with WorkSafe’s investigation and has done its best to try and remedy the harm that was caused by the incident."

General Manager of D&H Steel Wayne Carson said : “D&H Steel deeply regrets that this accident occurred. We apologise unreservedly to the injured man and his whānau, and to our staff, for the distress the accident has caused."

The company says they made voluntary payments totalling $172,000 to the injured man prior to the court sentencing.