Kitchen manufacturer fined $60K for amputated fingers - 24.2.20

Kitchen manufacturer Oliver Projects has been convicted and fined $60,000 and ordered to pay costs of $4,248 after a cabinet maker severed three fingers while cutting panels. The Dandenong Magistrates’ Court found that the kitchen manufacturer failed to provide or maintain safe systems of work and, despite engaging an OHS advisor to develop a safe operating procedure for the panel saw, failed to implement it or use it to train staff. An exercise book attached to the saw did provide brief instructions, but failed to inform workers to turn off the saw and wait for the blade to stop before removing offcuts.

The incident occurred in April 2018, when a cabinet maker was using a panel saw to cut sections of melamine for the installation of a range hood. After cutting a panel, the worker was standing beside the saw when he attempted to push an offcut into a waste bin while the blade was still spinning; in doing so, his hand came into contact with the blade and three of his fingers were amputated from above the first knuckle. The man required surgery to reattach his fingers, and spent nine days recovering in hospital.

“It’s incredibly frustrating to know this company had been provided with an appropriate safety procedure for the saw but inexplicably failed to pass this information on to its workers. WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who fail to ensure the safety of their workers is always their first priority,” said Julie Nielsen, WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety.

To reduce the risk of similar incidents, employers should identify hazards, assess the risks associated with them, and eliminate these risks by isolating them or using an alternative. Safe operating procedures must be developed and implemented, in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives. Employers should also train staff in the safe operation of machines, and provide written procedures in the worker’s first language. WorkSafe Victoria also advises employers to regularly inspect and service all machines, and affix safety guards and gates to machines at all times.