Scrap metal recycler fined $40K over crush injury

Monday, 22 April, 2024

Scrap metal recycler fined $40K over crush injury

A scrap metal recycler in Tottenham, Manhari International Pty Ltd, has been fined $40,000 after a contractor’s arm was caught in a machine which had the guarding removed. The company pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to ensure a workplace under its management or control was safe and without risks to health. The company was fined without conviction and ordered to pay costs of $4132.

The incident occurred in August 2021, as the contractor was operating a shredding machine used to separate, compact and cut materials. The contractor noticed one of two conveyor belts was stopping and starting; as he knelt next to the conveyor, the contractor fell forward, touching the belt with his left hand which was dragged into the machine up to his elbow. The contractor suffered broken bones and skin loss, requiring multiple surgeries and skin grafts, and is unlikely to ever regain full use of his lower arm and hand.

An investigation by WorkSafe Victoria found that the factory-supplied side guarding had been removed from the conveyor and that no guarding was in place, despite the risk of exposed rollers and rotating parts being identified in a risk assessment of the machine when it was installed in May 2020. It was reasonably practicable for the company to reduce the risks by not removing the guarding, installing guarding over the running in nip-points on the two conveyor belts and having a system of work that included a safe work procedure and required workers to ensure guards were fitted.

To manage risks when working with machinery, WorkSafe advises employers to identify the hazards and assess the risks of working with them and eliminate or control those risks by isolating them or using an alternative. Staff should also be trained in the safe operation of machines and equipment, with written procedures provided in the worker’s first language. Employers are also advised to 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 employers to ensure that machines and equipment are regularly serviced and maintained. Signs should also be placed on or near a machine to alert employees of the dangers of operating it.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said anyone with control or management of a workplace must ensure that it operates safely — or risk prosecution. “Safety guarding on plant and machinery is crucial to keeping everyone in the workplace safe and reducing the very real risk of death or serious injury — so it beggars belief that anyone would allow such a machine to operate without this in place. In this case a worker has suffered a traumatic and life-changing injury that, sadly, could and should have been prevented,” Beer said.

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