Crush injury leads to $40K fine for cardboard manufacturer

Monday, 29 April, 2024

Crush injury leads to $40K fine for cardboard manufacturer

A Victorian cardboard manufacturer, Lazo Paper Pty Ltd, has been convicted and fined $40,000 after a worker’s hand was dragged into unguarded machinery at a Keysborough factory. The company, now in liquidation, was found guilty of two charges of failing to provide and maintain plant that was safe and without risks to health. The company was also ordered to pay costs of $4941.

In May 2022 the worker, who spoke little English, was cleaning a large gluing machine that consisted of a flat bench and two powered rollers. The worker, who had not previously cleaned the machine or seen anyone else do the task, was wiping the bottom roller while it was running when the cloth became caught, dragging his hand between the rollers. The worker suffered two broken fingers and was off work for eight weeks.

An investigation conducted by WorkSafe Victoria revealed that the guarding on the machine, which included the use of corrugated cardboard bound together as a makeshift guard on top of the machine, was unsecured and inadequate. It was reasonably practicable for the company to ensure the machine had guarding, including an interlock device, that only allowed access to the rollers when there was no risk.

WorkSafe advises employers to undertake a risk assessment to identify any hazards and assess how to remove or control them before cleaning plant and equipment. A documented procedure must also be in place, with instructions on how to power down and isolate equipment and ensure it is available in a worker’s first language.

Employers are also advised to ensure machines are powered down, fully secured and stable before cleaning begins. All machinery must be properly guarded with safety interlocks checked regularly. WorkSafe also advises employers to ensure workers receive training and supervision so they understand the procedure and the risks associated with the plant and equipment being cleaned.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said there are no excuses for employers who fail to manage the risks of working around machinery and urged employers to take proactive steps to ensure the safety of their workers, particularly those who may be more vulnerable due to inexperience or a language barrier. “The installation of guarding is a simple and relatively cost-effective way to reduce the risks of workers making contact with running machines,” Beer said.

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