$25,000 fine for unguarded machine

Wednesday, 13 June, 2007

A recycling business in Kewdale, WA, has recently been fined $25,000 for failing to provide a safe workplace, after a man injured his arm in an unguarded machine.

Visy Paper pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe workplace for a labour hire worker and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court in late May.

In February 2005, a baler operator suffered nerve damage, dislocation, fractures, major lacerations and permanently lost around 40% of arm usage below the elbow. His glove was caught on the mechanism that twists wires through the bales, which then pulled his hand up into the machine.

The emergency stop button shut down the machine, but the man's hand was stuck in the mechanism for around 30 minutes until fire and emergency services workers freed him.

WorkSafe WA commissioner Nina Lyhne said the court case showed the importance of guarding the moving parts of machinery and ensuring that labour hire workers were adequately trained and supervised.

"Guarding has been required by WA's occupational safety and health laws for so long now that the message should have well and truly been accepted," Lyhne said.

"This case shows that the message isn't getting through to everybody, and a man has been left with permanent injuries because the employer failed to identify the risk and ensure the employee's safety by guarding the machine.

"The case is also a timely reminder that labour hire workers have a right to a safe workplace. In fact, both the labour hire company and the company to which the labour is hired have a duty of care to ensure that a safe workplace is provided."

For further information on machinery guarding and duty of care responsibilities, visit www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

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