Carter Holt Harvey reprimanded in court over incident that saw worker injured by machine

WorkSafe New Zealand has told wood products company Carter Holt Harvey Limited they must learn from previous health and safety failings after a worker suffered life-changing injuries from being crushed by a machine he was working on in October 2016.

The company appeared in Whangarei District Court yesterday following the incident, which occurred at their Ruakaka plant.

The worker was carrying out maintenance work on what was believed to be a safely secured machine and had leaned in to make adjustments when part of the machine moved, causing severe injuries after it collided with his chest and shoulders.

An investigation by WorkSafe found that Carter Holt Harvey Ltd had inadequately guarded machinery, despite having identified the risks and hazards, as well as the options to control those risks.

In a statement, WorkSafe's deputy general manager for investigations and specialist services, Simon Humphries, said the company was aware the risk of injury existed as a probation notice had been issued previously to another of the company's sites. The notice involved the same piece of machinery.

A further three probation notices had been issued for another work site for inadequate machine guarding.

"The company knew of the risks of this machine as early as 2002 but it took them 15 years to prioritise the necessary guarding," Mr Humphries said.

"A worker's life has changed irrevocably because of the company's inexcusable delay in dealing with the issue. It is only a result of good luck, and certainly not good management, that more of Carter Holt Harvey's employees were not seriously harmed."