19 Jan 2009

Hydraulic press likely culprit in Fonterra factory death

1:33 pm on 19 January 2009

Police say it appears that a man fatally injured at a South Taranaki milk powder factory on Saturday was crushed by a hydraulic press.

Theodorus Rangihu Blake, 52, was injured at the packing plant at Fonterra's Whareroa factory at Hawera just before 7pm, and died in hospital.

Taranaki police rural area commander, Inspector Frank Grant, said it appears Mr Blake was critically injured by the press, though it has not yet been confirmed.

"He was operating a belt of some sort that stacks milk powder on the pallet and at one point he has had to climb on top of the belt itself," Inspector Grant said.

"He was seen looking in the vicinity of where the press is, and shortly after that, collapsed."

Frank Grant said Mr Blake was stabilised at Hawera Hospital but later died at Taranaki Base Hospital in New Plymouth.

The Department of Labour is investigating and a coroner may later be called in.

Fonterra says the area where the man was working was immediately shut down and was being isolated until inspections are completed.