Vic nursery fined after worker seriously injured in machine accident
A Hamilton nursery, Arborline Ltd, that provides seedlings to the forestry industry, has been fined $52,500 after pleading guilty to one charge of failing to provide or maintain plant that was safe and without risks to health, after a worker was seriously injured while using a machine. The company was fined $52,500 without conviction and ordered to pay costs of $3716.
In October 2020, the injured worker was tasked with putting seed trays through a seeding line machine, which places seed in the tray cells as they move along a conveyor belt. The worker reached into the machine, which she believed was turned off, to clear the spilled seeds and her arm became entangled between a moving feeder bar and an axle, causing serious injury to her hand and wrist. The court heard that the company had failed to install required guarding around the exit of the machine and that it had been reasonably practicable to do so to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury.
“It’s not enough to simply tell workers to be cautious. There needs to be proper guarding around danger areas of a machine to prevent gruesome injuries like this. Tragically, there have been 20 workplace fatalities so far this year. WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute employers who fail to provide safe and healthy working environments,” Dr Beer said.
To manage risks when working with machinery, employers should identify hazards, assess the risks associated with them and eliminate or control those risks by isolating them or using an alternative. WorkSafe Victoria also advises employers to train their staff in the safe operation of machines and equipment and to provide written procedures in the worker’s first language. Employers should also develop and implement safe operating procedures in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives. Safety guards and gates must be compliant and fixed to machines at all times, with machines and equipment serviced and inspected regularly. Employers are also advised to place signs on or near a machine to alert employees to the dangers of operating it.
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