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Heinz Watties fined $300,000 for burning employee

Published 15 Apr 2019

Heinz Watties in Napier has been fined for safety failings under the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 for an incident which occured in May 2017 where a worker got boiling brine spilled into her gum boot causing burns to her leg.

The worker who noticed the vat boiling over attempted to turn it off and got the overflowing brine on her lower legs.

Apparently boiling over of vats frequently occurs if left unattended and another worker had been injured in the past.

Following an investigation it was established the worker had inadequate Personal Protective Equipment, was inadequately trained and not under supervision.

A spokesperson from Worksafe in a statement said: "When you know there's a problem, the law requires you to fix it. They didn't and that is simply not acceptable."

Heinz Watties was fined $281,250 and further ordered to pay $50,000 in reparations to the victim.

An interesting takeaway from this case is the magnitude of fine. $281,250 for burning a staff member compared to $250,000 for a fatality in the case of Pegasus Engineering also this month.

In law the maximum fine must not exceed $1.5m, and the Courts appear to be taking the affordability of the business into consideration.