Tor­tilla com­pany charged

Central Otago Mirror - - OUT & ABOUT - DASHA KU­PRIENKO

A Queen­stown-based tor­tilla busi­ness is fac­ing a charge un­der the Health and Safety at Work Act af­ter a worker’s arm was crushed in a con­veyor belt.

WorkSafe New Zealand have charged Miller Food Ltd, trad­ing as Re­mark­able Tor­tillas, with fail­ing to en­sure the health and safety of Daniel Mauri­cio Figueroa Varas while he was mak­ing tor­tillas, ex­pos­ing him to risk of death or se­ri­ous in­jury.

Figueroa, 19, had his right arm sucked into a tor­tilla press ma­chine at the busi­ness as he tried to re­move a stuck tor­tilla on Novem­ber 23.

It was stuck in the op­er­at­ing con­veyor for 20 sec­onds.

He re­mained trapped for an­other 15 min­utes af­ter he switched it off be­fore his screams for help were heard by two co-work­ers.

He had since lost three fin­gers and had sev­eral surg­eries in the eight months since it hap­pened.

Figueroa’s fa­ther Chris­tian Figueroa said he was pleased charges had been laid.

He be­lieved the com­pany should be held re­spon­si­ble.

‘‘It’s never end­ing. We just want this thing to be over with,’’ he said.

‘‘Daniel has been so strong and ma­ture through­out this.’’

The charges were filed in the Queen­stown Dis­trict Court on July 26.

The com­pany, which is still op­er­at­ing, was ex­pected to make its first ap­pear­ance on Au­gust 21.

The Figueroa fam­ily would not be in court for the first ap­pear­ance.

The par­tic­u­lars of the charge in­cluded that it was rea­son­ably prac­ti­cal for Miller Food Ltd to have im­ple­mented a health and safety sys­tem which iden­ti­fied and con­trolled risks and haz­ards; com­pleted a risk assess­ment of its ma­chin­ery; en­sured the du­plex tor­tilla press oven was ad­e­quately guarded; en­sured work­ers were ad­e­quately trained in safe work­ing pro­ce­dures and en­sured there was an ap­pro­pri­ate emer­gency re­sponse sys­tem which work­ers were trained in and un­der­stood.

The max­i­mum penalty is a fine of $1.5 mil­lion.


Daniel Figueroa, 19, has had three fin­gers re­moved from his right arm.

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