$55K pay-out and second serious injury for Affco

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Affco has paid a high price for the safety failures that left one Te Puka man impaled on a meat hook but it seems the company is struggling to learn from its mistakes as reports surface that an eerily similar incident has happened since.

Yesterday, the meat company was ordered by Tauranga District Court to pay a $30,000 fine plus $25,000 in victim reparation for a 2014 workplace accident which saw experienced cleaner Jason Matahiki suspended by his head.

The 44-year-old was caught on a foot-long moving hook in the plant’s mutton slaughter chain after it forced its way through his skull and came out beneath his eye – one firefighter told Matahiki that he had hung for an hour while colleagues supported his body before he was able to be rescued.

The company claimed the event was a freak occurrence and an “extraordinarily unfortunate accident” but Judge Pete Rollo disagreed and said Affco had failed to follow its own safety regulations.

Now, it seems a similar incident could have happened in January, 2016 – WorkSafe documents obtained by RNZ News reveal it was investigating a second head injury in a different Affco plant.

The latest case also occurred in a mutton slaughter chain – the worker was caught by a moving hook and his head was caught by a hock clamp before he was pulled along for half a metre and the side of his head was crushed.

In a statement, AFFCO general manager Andy Leonard said the 2014 incident was "extremely unfortunate" and promised the company would "continue to actively promote a safe working environment for all its staff."
Leonard declined to comment when approached by HRM about the January accident.

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