Carton Finishing Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on Monday to a single charge of failing to provide safe plant and a single charge of failing to ensure that the presence and location of asbestos was clearly indicated.
The company was, without conviction, fined $20,000 for each charge and ordered to pay $4,319 in costs.
In January 2020, a worker sustained a serious hand injury while operating a machine used to glue pieces of cardboard together.
The worker’s hand became caught in a pulley belt rotating at high speed after they tripped on hoses laying on the ground nearby and fell forward into the machine.
After the incident, a WorkSafe inspector issued a prohibition notice in relation to access to the danger areas of the machine. A number of improvement notices were also issued for other risks associated with the machine.
In March 2020, inspectors following up on the improvement notices were advised by the company that twelve insulating blocks used to shield heat from the machine contained asbestos. Tests subsequently confirmed the blocks contained chrysotile asbestos.
The court heard it was reasonably practicable for Carton Finishing to have eliminated or reduced the risk to health and safety by installing guarding that prevented access to the machine’s moving parts.
The company also had a duty under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations to ensure the insulating blocks were clearly labelled as containing asbestos.
WorkSafe Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said there was simply no excuse for leaving workers exposed to the risk from unsafe machinery.
“Employers must ensure any machine used in their workplace is fitted with adequate guarding and that any attachments are made from appropriate materials,” Dr Beer said.
“WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute companies that put their workers at risk every day.”
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.
- Train staff in the safe operation of machines and equipment and provide written procedures in the worker’s first language.
- Develop and implement safe operating procedures in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives.
- Ensure safety guards and gates are compliant and fixed to machines at all times.
- Regularly service and inspect machines and equipment.
- Place signs on or near a machine to alert employees of the dangers of operating it.