Centre Tooling Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on Friday to one charge of failing to provide, as far as was reasonably practicable, a safe working environment.
The company was convicted and fined $20,000. It was also ordered to pay costs of $2,509.
The court heard that in September 2020, a worker went into the operational area of a milling machine and became entangled in a rotating spindle.
The worker suffered serious injuries including a collapsed throat, punctured lungs, a broken sternum and ribs, severe liver laceration, a shoulder tear and dislocation, and major burns.
A WorkSafe investigation found that it was reasonably practicable for Centre Tooling to install an interlock system on the operator’s door, meaning the door would not open if the spindle was rotating, and the spindle would not rotate if the door was open.
The court heard the machine’s front access door had an interlock system but the operator’s door did not have a similar feature.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said there was no excuse for employers who don’t make workplace health and safety their utmost priority.
“If you’re running a business in Victoria, it’s your responsibility to maintain a safe workplace, and WorkSafe won’t hesitate to take action against employers who fail to do so,” Dr Beer said.
“The horrific injuries this worker sustained could have been avoided if the company had equipped all machine doors with proper safety systems.”
In a separate hearing, the company’s managing director was granted a diversion with a number of conditions including donating $2,000 to the Alfred Hospital Intensive Care Unit, writing a letter of apology to the injured worker and completing a Certificate IV in Work, Health and Safety.
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.