Tortilla company charged
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.