Safety failures blamed for Kiwi employee’s impalement

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A Rangiuru meat-working plant has been blamed for the serious injuries one worker incurred after it failed to follow its own safety rules.

A Kiwi company has been found guilty of breaching health and safety laws after one Rangiuru-based worker was impaled on a suspended hook.

Employee Jason Matahiki was working as a night cleaner at the Affco meat-working plant when his head was "penetrated by one of the prongs of a suspended hook".

Affco insisted the 42-year-old was at fault and Matahiki even told the court that he should not have been standing where he was at the time of the accident – despite that, Judge Peter Rollo said there were “critical company failures.”

While Matahiki admitted he shouldn’t have been standing in the dangerous spot, there was no explicit company policy to instruct otherwise and evidence suggested it was necessary to access the area in order to clean certain parts of the machinery.

Judge Rollo said it was not "negligent employee responsibility" but rather a failure by Affco as the chain carrying the hook had been allowed to move through the cleaning process – something which was contrary to the company’s own policies.

He added that the risk of constantly moving chains carrying hooks should have been identified far earlier by the company which they’re legally obligated to do.

“Every accident is the fault of someone,” said Affco spokesman Andy Leonard. “In this particular incident it was a person in a restricted area and unfortunate despite training and signs.”

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