June 8th, 2012
Machinery accidents cost manufacturers $124m
The Department of Labour’s Safe Use of Machinery project aims to reduce machinery related accidents in the workplace by changing attitudes and behaviours.
Machinery related accidents are too frequent in this country and inadequate machine guarding is more often than not the culprit. Fingers, hands, arms or legs being crushed or amputated because of inadequate machine guarding are among the most common workplace accidents investigated by the Department of Labour.
Each year hundreds of workers are injured – and several killed - after becoming trapped in machinery. The high human and financial cost of manufacturing sector accidents is reflected in the statistics: the sector has the highest rate of ACC claims (costing employers $124 million in the 2009-2010 year), with 26 fatalities between 2005 and 2010.
Based in Auckland as the General Manager Northern Region for the Department’s Labour Group, John Howard and his team see a wide range of workplace accidents which could have been prevented if safety practices had been followed.
“We believe we can make a difference by changing the attitudes and behaviours of employers and employees, which is why the Department has undertaken a three-year Safe Use of Machinery Project,” says John.
“Launched in 2010 the project is focused on reducing injury and harm caused by poorly guarded machinery. Since then inspectors have visited more than 1700 workplaces nationwide to highlight to employers their responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, and to emphasise the importance of properly guarded machines,” he says.
In addition to the Safe Use of Machinery Project, the Minister of Labour, Kate Wilkinson, launched the Manufacturing Sector Action Plan in late March as part of the National Action Agenda. The plan was developed in consultation with industry, and outlines a number of key activities that are designed to improve safety in the Manufacturing sector.
These include the establishment of clear safety standards for machine guarding, more health and safety training, the promotion of safe work practices to youth and the development of guidelines for safe work in the metal industry.
Examples of Guarding of Trim or Rise and Fall Saws:
[caption id="attachment_3588" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo 1: Example of tunnel guard"]
[/caption][caption id="attachment_3589" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo 2: Finger guard (out-feed only)"]
A number of factsheets have been developed by the Department of Labour for employers, including General Principles of Machine Guarding and Information, Installation, Operation and Maintenance. You can find all of the factsheets at