Company Fined $40,000 After Worker's Hand Crushed

Lazo Paper Pty Ltd, now in liquidation, was sentenced in the Dandenong Magistrates' Court on Wednesday after being 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 tasked with 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.

A WorkSafe investigation found guarding on the machine, which included the use of corrugated cardboard bound together as a makeshift guard on the 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 bodily access to the rollers when there was no risk and prevented bodily access at all other times.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said there were no excuses for employers who failed to manage the risks of working around machinery.

"The installation of guarding is a simple and relatively cost-effective way to reduce the risks of workers making contact with running machines," Dr Beer said.

"Employers should take proactive steps to ensure the safety of their workers, particularly those who may be more vulnerable due to inexperience or a language barrier."

Tips for cleaning plant and equipment safely:

  • Undertake a risk assessment to identify any hazards and assess how to remove or control them.
  • Have a documented procedure in place, including on how to power down and isolate equipment, and ensure it is available in a worker's first language.
  • Ensure machines are powered down, fully secured and stable before cleaning begins.
  • Ensure machinery is properly guarded and safety interlocks are regularly checked.
  • Ensure workers are properly trained and supervised so they understand the procedure and the risks associated with the plant and equipment being cleaned.
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