Charge over hook in worker's head NZ

Worksafe New Zealand is prosecuting Affco after an employee was impaled in the head by a meat hook and dragged at its Rangiuru meat processing plant.

In August last year Jason Matahiki was part of a two-man night-shift team cleaning spreader hooks - which hold cow carcasses' legs apart on a chain conveyor - when a hook hit him from behind.

The 10cm hook impaled Mr Matahiki behind his ear and came out by his eye.

It became lodged between cheek muscle and skull bone.

Yesterday Worksafe New Zealand brought a charge against the meat processing plant under the Health and Safety Employment Act. A Worksafe New Zealand spokesman said Affco pleaded not guilty to one charge of being an employer that failed to take all the practical steps to ensure its employee was not exposed to the hazards of the moving chain.

Affco faced a maximum fine of up to $250,000, the spokesman said.

The matter would likely go to trial on August 29 in the Tauranga District Court.

At the time of the incident the Bay of Plenty Times reported that Mr Matahiki was an experienced employee.

He was taken to Tauranga Hospital in a serious condition but was back in Te Puke days later.

A colleague said Mr Matahiki had an extremely lucky escape.

"It could have been serious. I would say it was only millimetres away [from causing more permanent damage]."

- Bay of Plenty Times