Recycler fined $70,000 after worker lost hand

SKM Services Pty Ltd was convicted on a charge of failing, as far as was reasonably practicable, to provide a safe workplace and sentenced in Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on 22 September.

On 24 October 2014, a 36-year-old worker’s right hand was amputated in a baler used to crush aluminium recycling into a cube.

The court heard the worker was injured while strapping bales of crushed aluminium near the machine.

A WorkSafe investigation found the company had failed to reduce risks to workers’ safety by not having a guard fitted to the machine to prevent access to the bale exit point.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Andrew Keen said WorkSafe would not hesitate to prosecute businesses that disregard their responsibility to provide a safe workplace.

“Businesses must do everything reasonably possible to keep workplaces safe and protect workers from the risk of serious injury or death,” Mr Keen said.

“Sadly, as a result of this incident, a worker has suffered severe injury with lifelong consequences.”

“There is no excuse for employers who risk workers’ safety by ignoring their health and safety obligations.”

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.

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