WorkSafe New Zealand have just released the first sentencing under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. This was for a machinery guarding incident; a worker had his hand caught, and lost most of his fingers.
The company had identified a problem with the guarding six weeks prior to the incident, but had not taken any action towards fixing it. The fine was $100,000 which is an increase from $30,000 to $40,000 under the old Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. The fine was reduced from $275,000 based on the organisation’s ability to pay.
WorkSafe NZ said that identifying and listing hazards and risks is not sufficient. Organisations must act quickly to control the risk to the workers. In some cases, this may mean taking the machine out of service until it is fixed; it may involve special training or other equipment.
Recently, I was asked if not identifying or listing hazards and risks would be a better option. It would not! Organisations have a duty to know about and manage the hazards in the workplace. Ignorance of, or ignoring them is not acceptable, and would incur a considerable fine.
The best answer is to undertake regular maintenance, and reviews of your plant, equipment and processes to ensure that the hazards have been identified, the risks controlled and everything is being done safely.
How can Safewise help?
We work with organisations who need more health and safety knowledge, or more time, than they have in house. For more information, check the website.