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Two meat companies will have to pay $470,000 after a cleaner became trapped in a bin lifting machine.

Hāwera District Court.
Photo: Supplied / Ministry of Justice

Robin Killeen, 74, died on the job on an early morning in December 2019 at ANZCO in Eltham, after he climbed into a bin lifting machine to clean it and became trapped.

The evidence indicated he had operated the controls from inside the machine and was unable to stop it.

A Taranaki branch of ANZCO and its subsidiary Riverlands Eltham were sentenced in the Hāwera District Court yesterday. They were fined $340,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $130,000.

A WorkSafe investigation found ANZCO had not developed a safe operating procedure for cleaning of the machine and Riverlands Eltham’s hazard identification and risk assessment of the cleaning process was poor.

WorkSafe said the tragedy was reminder for businesses to think around the clock when it came to worker safety.

“Commercial cleaning is a high-pressure industry that works on tight timeframes. Safety must come ahead of whatever appears to be the quickest and easiest way to do the job,” said area investigation manager, Paul West.

“You may have very competent staff and thorough procedures onsite in daylight hours. But many businesses have cleaners or other contractors coming in after hours for maintenance, so it’s critical to consider these people in health and safety planning and assessment of risks.”

West said Killeen’s death was also a warning for interlinked companies to ensure their health and safety practices aligned.

“Front-foot the discussion, agree your procedures and document them clearly to avoid catastrophic consequences,” he said.

The companies were charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The maximum fine they could have faced was $1.5 million.

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