NZ meatworks guilty of safety neglect

Riverlands Eltham, a Taranaki meatworks, has been found guilty of failing to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of its staff members, after an employee had the tip of his finger severed in late 2011.

The company was yesterday (5/12/13) found guilty in the New Plymouth District Court after being charged by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The charge follows a December 2011 incident where an employee, Erick Jimmy, had part of his finger severed while working on the blood collection chain conveyor, stuff.co.nz reports.

He subsequently developed an infection and had the finger removed down to the first joint.

When the incident occurred, there were no safety guards in place and no warning system to alert staff when the chain conveyor would start moving. Stuff.co.nz reports that safety guards were installed just hours after Jimmy’s injury occurred. A warning has also been added to the premises, alerting staff when the chain will move.

Judge Courtney said Riverlands’ immediate installation of the guards demonstrated the company was aware of the potential for injuries.

"They were available, as I say, they were produced in a matter of hours and for this company produced at minimal cost," he said.

Riverlands will be sentenced on 23 January.