Manufacturer prosecuted for insufficient safety information

Thursday, 28 January, 2010

Jalor Tools was convicted and fined $80,000 after it pleaded guilty to two workplace safety charges relating to an incident in 2006 where a router tool (bit) broke into three pieces, one of which struck a woman in the chest, killing her. The woman was using an industrial router to make the design on a door when the router tool broke.

It was not alleged Jalor Tools’ failings were responsible for the woman’s death. WorkSafe's investigation found the router tool was to be operated at 6000-8000 rpm, although it was actually being operated at around 15,000 rpm.

During sentencing, Judge Phillip Coish said: “In manufacturing the router tool, Jalor Tools failed to mark it with a maximum-operating speed, nor did it provide written information about the safe operating speed.”

WorkSafe’s acting Executive Director, Stan Krpan, said the case illustrated the legal requirement of manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to provide adequate information about their products to end users to ensure they were used safely: “Businesses designing, supplying and manufacturing equipment to be used in workplaces also have obligations to the safety of workers who are the end users of that equipment.

“Control of the ultimate use of the tool may not be possible; however, at the point at which it is sold, or even hired, information must be provided.

“Employers also have an obligation to ensure the equipment used by their business is fit for the purpose intended.

“For businesses coming out of tough economic times and buying or updating equipment, now is the time to ensure it meets safety obligations by referring to WorkSafe and any appropriate Australian standards.

“In this case, AS1473.2-2001 covers rotating tools of this type, but the court found Jalor Tools was not aware of the standard.

“Meeting OHS requirements can add value to your product and protect the reputation and viability of the business. Not doing so can lead to disaster.”

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