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Homegrown fined
Hastings juice company, Homegrown
Gurbir Singh

By Gurbir Singh (NewsViews):

The Hastings District Court has today ordered a fruit juice company of Hastings, Homegrown, to pay a fine of $367,500 for the workplace death of their worker, Manpreet Kaur on June 15, 2017.

District Judge, Bridget Mackintosh also directed the company to pay a reparation of $90,000 to the 23-year-old Manpreet’s widower for emotional harm, and an additional $51,000 for his economic losses.

According to the court case, on the fateful day, Manpreet was working on a night shift when she was dragged into the machine after her clothing was caught in a bottle-filling machine hook. She died of asphyxiation.

Homegrown Juice Company Ltd in Mahora, Hastings has a staff of 80 employees and had pleaded guilty last year to the charges under the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015.

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The WorkSafe contended that the obvious risks were not managed properly by the accused company as there was no standard procedure available for operating the machine that caused her death.

A subsequent investigation by WorkSafe found the machine was not interlocked – a vital protection for workers as it stops machine from starting while the guarding was open. It is understood that interlock could have prevented this tragic fatality.

Worksafe also found that this machine,imported from China, was not certified and did not comply with New Zealand’s standards.

The company was found more culpable by the court as the company had failed to install an interlock as directed by WorkSafe in 2016, leaving the workers exposed to hazards.

According to the WorkSafe Chief Inspector, Hayden Mander, “Every business that uses machinery should consider the tragic outcome of Homegrown’s failings and commit to making sure their workers will be able to go home to their families and friends healthy and safe at the end of every working day.”

The court acknowledged that Homegrown Juice Company had taken suitable steps to make the machine safe to operate following the accident.