$50,000 fine for crush injury

23-11-2011

A labour hire company has been convicted and fined $50,000 over an incident that left a worker with serious injuries after his arm was crushed in a machine.

Skilled Group Ltd pleaded guilty to one count of failing to provide a safe workplace at the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court recently.

The injured worker was an employee of Skilled Group Ltd, but was assigned to work at the Pampas Factory in Footscray when the incident happened on September 5, 2009.

The court was told the worker was cleaning a dough extruder when it suddenly activated, trapping and dragging the man’s arm into the rollers of the machine. The fire brigade needed to attend to free him.

The man suffered serious injuries as a result of the incident, has been unable to work since, wears a sling and suffers constant pain in his left arm.

The court heard that the worker had pressed the on/off button and turned off a switch before cleaning the machine, but he had failed to press the main isolator button, which would have completely de-activated the machine.

An investigation found the worker was not adequately trained in how to operate the machine’s controls.

The machine was also inadequately guarded, allowing the worker to place his hand through a gap and into an unsafe area while attempting to clean it. 

Magistrate Cure convicted and fined Skilled Group $50,000. She acknowledged the impact on the victim, the need to deter others and the company's guilty plea.

Representatives of Goodman Fielder Consumer Foods Pty Ltd, which operates the Pampas Factory, also appeared at the Sunshine Magistrates' Court today facing two charges in relation to the matter.  They pleaded not guilty, and will re-appear to contest the charges late next year.

WorkSafe’s Manufacturing, Logistics and Agriculture Director, Ross Pilkington, said it was important workers were trained in how to properly isolate machines. 

“Fully de-activating a machine is a basic requirement when it comes to maintenance and a basic safety requirement when it comes to protecting your workers,” he said.

“It’s essential workers are properly trained, and that guarding is adequate to avoid incidents like this from happening in the future.”

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