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Are you exposed?

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If you operate machinery of any type, do you have all the required procedures in place to ensure that you are not exposing your staff and yourself to injuries and potential prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015?

If you (and by extension your staff) operate machinery, then you need to take all reasonable and practicable steps to ensure the appropriate safeguards and training are in place for the operation of that equipment.

Machinery can easily cause serious and sometimes fatal injuries when used or handled incorrectly. As a business owner you need to ensure that all safeguards are in place for all your machinery. Safeguards include physical guards to ensure people cannot be caught in the machine while it is being operated. It can also include having emergency stop controls, ensuring electronic tagging is undertaken and maintained, regular maintenance is carried out, and that all hazards relating to the piece of equipment are identified and notified to all potential and actual users.

Your company should also have in place policies, guidelines and standards appropriate to the machinery you use. Further, your staff, especially those who operate or who are likely to operate the machinery are trained in the proper use of the equipment, and if necessary, have regular refresher training on its use.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 creates obligations that are not to be taken lightly, as the consequences of failure to comply with not just the act, but any policy, guideline or standard relevant to the equipment can result in significant physical and financial costs. This could include being exposed to a prosecution by WorkSafe NZ.

WorkSafe NZ took such a prosecution against Budget Plastics (NZ) Limited after an employee lost all but his thumb and half his forefinger from his left hand when he lost his balance and his hand was dragged into a machine along with waste plastic. (WorkSafe New Zealand v Budget Plastics (New Zealand) Ltd, [2017] NZDC 17395).

The machine involved in the accident was found to have insufficient guards and was not fitted with an appropriate emergency stop control. Budget Plastics also did not have an adequate safe operating procedure for the machine, neither did it have adequate policies for training operators in its safe use nor adequate system for identifying hazards.

Without getting into all the arguments that went before the District Court, Budget Plastics was ordered to pay $37,500 in reparation to the injured employee, a fine of $100,000 and prosecution costs of $1000.

The cost of developing the appropriate procedures, policies, training and hazard identification systems would have been far cheaper to the company and their employee would most likely have their left hand still intact.

Take a close look at your procedures, policies, training and hazard identification systems. If these are not up to date or non-existent, then investing some money to have appropriate measures in place, will give you a defence you can rely upon to mitigate any accident in your workplace. They may even help you prevent an accident, which is the intention behind the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

If you need assistance with your procedures and systems, contact McKone Consultancy today for an obligation free assessment.

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