Company fined $160,000 for safety breach

08-11-2011

A Victorian company that failed to properly guard machines resulting in three workers suffering serious injuries within months has been convicted and fined $160,000.

Timbertruss Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court last week to three charges of failing to provide a safe workplace and failing to provide training and supervision to employees.

The court heard how three Timbertruss workers – two from the company’s Belmont plant and one from its South Geelong plant – suffered serious crush injuries in separate incidents over a four-month period.

Each of the machines were used to make timber trusses, but were inadequately guarded.

The court was told that:

  • On March 4, 2009 a worker’s hand was crushed in a press
  • On March 31 2009 the head of another worker was crushed between a saw and the side of the machine as he attempted to remove a small piece of wood that had become blocked and
  • A worker lost two fingers on June 15 2009 as he removed timber off cuts from an inadequately guarded saw.

A WorkSafe VIC investigation found the company applied administrative controls, but failed to implement adequate physical barriers to prevent injury. The company has since implemented appropriate guarding and other measures on each of the machines. 

WorkSafe’s Operations General Manager, Lisa Sturzenegger hoped the prosecution would send a strong message to companies operating machinery without appropriate guarding. 

“Plant and machinery safety should not be left to the discretion of the workers. Employers must ensure the highest level of protection,” she said.

“Workers need to receive training and be competent to operate the machinery before they are allowed to work unsupervised and employers need to systematically manage risks to ensure they provide a safe place of work.”

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