Company, director fined after worker trapped beneath hoist
A Campbellfield manufacturer and its director have been convicted and fined a combined $60,000 after a June 2019 incident in which a worker was crushed by a robotic hoist used to lift and stack timber panels.
Timberwood Panels Pty Ltd and its director, Iain Agyeman, pleaded guilty to two charges each of failing to provide or maintain safe systems of work and failing to provide information and instruction. They were fined $35,000 and $25,000 respectively, and ordered to pay costs of $3640.
The incident occurred when a worker attempted to clear a malfunction in the robotic hoist. The worker sustained serious back and leg injuries and remains on restricted duties.
Inspectors from WorkSafe Victoria found that interlocks on gates in the area around the hoist had been bypassed, allowing access points to be opened without shutting machines off. Guarding had also been removed, allowing access to other dangerous areas. The system was unsafe, the training about risk identification was inadequate and safety procedures were ignored.
To manage the risks associated with working with machinery, employers are urged to identify hazards, assess the risks associated with them, and eliminate or control these risks by isolating them or using an alternative. Staff should also receive training in the safe operation of machines and equipment, with written procedures provided in the worker’s first language.
WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen warned that WorkSafe Victoria will not hesitate to prosecute employers who fail to ensure that the safety of their workers is always their first priority.
“To remove guarding and deactivate interlock systems shows a blatant disregard for safety and sadly this worker is continuing to live with the consequences,” said Nielsen.
To reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring, workplaces should develop and implement safe operating procedures in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives. Safety guards and gates must also be compliant and fixed to machines at all times, with signs placed on or near machines to alert employees of the dangers of operating them. Machines and equipment should also be regularly serviced and inspected.
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