Company fined for worker’s injuries - 24.6.13

A South Australian company was fined with $90,000 plus legal fees after an employee’s wrist and forearm were crushed in a machine.

The company was prosecuted by SafeWork SA under the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986 for failing to ensure the safety of an employee due to an ineffective guard over the machine.

This was the manufacturer’s third offence. The second offence involved inadequate guarding of the same machine.

Due to repeated offences, Magistrate Stephen Lieschke ordered the company to inform its employees and contractors of its conviction.

The accident happened on 21 September 2011. The worker’s arm was crushed in the machine after the power was turned on while she was replacing a plastic roll.

The victim spent two weeks in the hospital and went through surgery, including a nerve transplant. She was unable to return to work because of her injuries.

The same machine was involved in an accident in 2005.

“The Court intends the penalty to serve as a significant penalty and a warning to [the company] that its previous attitude to machine guarding is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Magistrate Lieschke.

The Magistrate noted that the company cooperated with SafeWork SA and has paid reparations to the worker. They have also replaced the machine with a new one, arranged for an independent risk assessment of all machinery and sought assistance in providing written procedures in appropriate languages for all employees.

SafeWork SA Executive Director Bryan Russell said employers should carry out hazard assessments on machinery and tasks as well as implement appropriate control measures.

“The Industrial Court’s decision reminds all employers of their duty of care to prevent a worker suffering an injury,” said Mr Russell.