Com­pany lets its guard down

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

A Porirua plas­tics man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany, which has been pros­e­cuted in the past for fail­ing to guard ma­chin­ery, has been fined $45,000 for a sim­i­lar of­fence.

In the lat­est in­ci­dent, Kiwi Plas­tic Com­pany Lim­ited was con­victed of fail­ing to guard two of its bag-seal­ing ma­chines.

Dur­ing an unan­nounced visit, Depart­ment of Labour in­spec­tors found the guards had been re­moved for about three months.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion also found an em­ployee had been taught to over-ride au­to­matic shut down mech­a­nisms.

Kiwi Plas­tics and its di­rec­tor, An­gelus Tay, were pros­e­cuted for sim­i­lar of­fences in 2002 when three em­ploy­ees were se­ri­ously in­jured.

The depart­ment has made sev­eral vis­its to the com­pany since then and is­sued a num­ber of warn­ings and im­prove­ment no­tices.

There have also been 32 ne­go­ti­ated agree­ments with the com­pany to im­prove work prac­tices.

The depart­ment’s Welling­ton ser­vice manger, Dave Hul­ston says this per­sis­tent of­fend­ing is un­ac­cept­able.

‘‘ We’ve worked with this com­pany to try to im­prove pro­ce­dures and the $45,000 fine sends a very strong mess- age to other em­ploy­ers to take ma­chine guard­ing in the work­place se­ri­ously.’’

Mr Hul­ston says the case re­lates to two side-sealer ma­chines used to man­u­fac­ture plas­tic su­per­mar­ket bags which have heat seal­ers run­ning at about 210 de­grees Cel­sius and hole punches that can po­ten­tially cause se­ri­ous in­jury.

In a re­served sen­tenc­ing de­ci­sion District Court Judge Broad­more said Mr Tay ‘‘talked the talk’’ on work­place safety, but ‘‘walk­ing the walk’’ was also es­sen­tial. Judge Broad­more said the com­pany ac­cepted this and ad­mit­ted its safety record was mostly ‘‘min­i­mum com­pli­ance’’.

The judge said the com­pany’s suc­cess in avoid­ing in­juries to its em­ploy­ees in the re­cent past had been at­trib­ut­able to in­creased vig­i­lance by the Depart­ment of Labour.

The Depart­ment has a pro­ject un­der way to re­duce the num­ber and sever­ity of ma­chin­ery-re­lated ac­ci­dents.

The Safe Use of Ma­chin­ery pro­ject in­volves in­spec­tors vis­it­ing com­pa­nies us­ing ma­chin­ery and talk­ing to em­ploy­ers about ma­chine guard­ing and re­mind­ing them of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties un­der the Health and Safety in Em­ploy­ment Act 1992 to keep em­ploy­ees safe while at work.

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