WorkSafe New Zealand v Lets Bale Ltd [2020] NZDC 4538

Published 10 September 2020

Sentencing — failing to ensure health and safety of workers — exposing workers to risk of serious injury — contact with moving parts of machine — failing to ensure machine adequately guarded — failing to establish a safe system of work — Big Tuff Pallets v Department of Labour HC Auckland, 5 February 2009 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Alliance Group [2019] NZDC 10924 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Kimberley Tool & Design [2019] NZDC 16489 — Stumpmaster v WorkSafe [2018] NZHC 2020 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Niagara Sawmilling Co Ltd [2019] NZDC 9720 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Allflex Packaging Ltd DC Manukau, 15 October 2018 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Furntech Plastics Ltd [2018] NZDC 18150 — Department of Labour v Hanham and Philp Contractors Ltd (2008) 6 NZELR 79 — WorkSafe New Zealand v Nicks Components & Accessories [2018] NZDC 26212 — WorkSafe New Zealand v ES Plastics Ltd [2018] NADSC 19341 — YSB Group Limited v WorkSafe New Zealand [2019] NZHC 2570 — Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, ss 151(2), 152-158. The defendant company appeared for sentence on a charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers, thereby exposing its workers to the risk of serious injury. The defendant harvested and manufactured animal feed product. As part of its work, the defendant had developed a prototype machine to manufacture and bale an animal feed supplement. However the defendant had failed to install an adequate guard on the machine, and to establish a safe system of work regarding its use. The incident giving rise to the charge occurred when the victim reached into the machine to clear a blockage and her hand became caught and trapped in the machine's moving parts. The victim suffered serious and permanent injuries to her hand, including losing a finger. The injuries meant that in the future the victim would be unable to find work in her chosen field, and caused her further difficulties in that she was a foreign national in New Zealand on a work visa. The Court ordered emotional harm reparations of $35,000, but made appropriate discounts for the payments that the defendant had already voluntarily made to the victim. Given the defendant's faults that had led to the accident, the obvious hazards arising from the use of the machine, and the seriousness of the harm that had occurred, the Court set a start point for fine of $425,000. For reparations paid, cooperation with the investigation, remedial steps, remorse, good prior safety record and guilty plea, the Court reduced the fine to $223,125. After a further reduction for the financial capacity of the defendant, the final fine was $79,428, along with costs of $1477.10. Judgment Date: 9 March 2020