A meat processing plant in New Zealand has been ordered to pay almost $300,000 after a worker sustained severe burns to most of his body when a boiler exploded.
The July 2018 incident happened when the employee was tending to the furnace of the boiler at Affco’s Moerewa plant. He opened the boiler door and a build-up of coal combusted and sent heat and flames out and into the room.
The worker was left with severe burns to 75% per cent of his body. He was placed in an induced coma for five weeks and required multiple surgeries and skin grafts. He has been unable to return to work.
WorkSafe’s investigation found Affco failed to ensure there was an effective system for monitoring and supervising workers overseeing the boiler.
The court was told the firm had recorded several instances of excess coal build up which caused these kinds of events and had made unsuccessful moves to rectify this. ‘The business should have had systems in place to ensure workers were aware of the risk and had safe ways of rectifying the situation,’ WorkSafe’s acting chief inspector Danielle Henry said.
‘All businesses, not just Affco, must consider how they can design safe work processes to ensure these incidents don’t occur. This includes ensuring that workers have the knowledge, experience and equipment to do their job safely,’ she added.
Affco New Zealand Ltd was prosecuted under sections 36(1)(a), 48(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 for failing to ensure the safety of workers while operating the boiler. It was fined $230,343 and ordered to pay emotional harm reparation of $65,000.
Earlier this month the company was fined $46,000 under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 after offal squirted in a worker’s eye at its Imlay plant. The employee became extremely ill with an infection carried by animals and as a result later required heart surgery.