File photo of an industrial sheet metal guillotine.

Wellington based Aquaheat Industries Limited has been fined $16,000 after an employee chopped off four fingers while cutting steel with a guillotine.

The Lower Hutt District Court also ordered the company to pay reparations of $10,000.

On 18 February last year, the employee put his hand into the machine to adjust a sheet of metal he was cutting. He accidentally pushed down on a pedal that activated the machine.

Four fingers on his left hand were amputated in the incident. Three of the four fingers were successfully reattached.

The day after the accident, Aquaheat installed a fixed protective guard to the machine involved.

“Fitting the protecting guard came a day too late for this employee,” says Dave Hulston, Wellington Service Manager for the Department of Labour. “He should not have had to suffer the pain and trauma of having four fingers cut off in this machine.

“If Aquaheat Industries had been focusing properly on its responsibilities to keep its employees safe, this machine would have been identified as a potential source of danger to employees and this incident could have been avoided,”

“Employers have a responsibility to ensure their employees are not injured at work. Machines must be properly guarded to protect staff while they work.”

The Department wants to reduce the high number and severity of injuries caused by machinery and has a safe use of machinery project under way over the next three years.