$40,000 fine after worker’s arm caught in shredder

Manhari International Pty Ltd faced severe penalties in Sunshine Magistrate’s Court the previous Friday, after acknowledging two breaches of failure in ensuring a risk-free, secure workplace under their supervision. Without conviction, the company faced a significant fine and was instructed to settle costs amounting to $4,132.

In a noteworthy incident from August 2021, an independent contractor grappled with brutal injuries while operating a shredder designed to segregate, compress and shear materials at the company’s recycling plant in Tottenham. He observed irregular functionality in one of the two conveyor belts, which initiated in stop-start patterns. On examining the belt closely, he unintentionally slipped, causing his left hand to make contact with the movable belt. This led to his hand being horrifically entrenched up to his elbow within the machinery.

The impact of this grievous situation led to multiple broken bones and extensive skin damage, mandating a series of surgical procedures and skin grafts. The enduring result is the disheartening probability of never recovering full operation of his lower arm and hand.

An examination by WorkSafe highlighted the critical level negligence, revealing that the protective side guards supplied by the factory were removed, and no safety measures were implemented. This negligence persisted even after recognising the clear hazard of exposed parts such as rollers that had been identified during a risk evaluation conducted in May 2020.

The court deduced that it was feasibly achievable for Manhari International to curtail such potential threats by abstaining from removing the original protective guarding equipment, enforcing additional guarding over the transitional points on the dual conveyor belts, and formulating a structured work process encompassing policies like the Bluesafe SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement). Workers must ensure compliance with safeguards, which effectively contribute to Work Health and Safety.

WorkSafe’s Health and Safety Executive Director Narelle Beer reinforced that individuals with management or control over a workplace must ensure operations conform to Work Safety regulations. Negligence risks severe consequences, including legal action.

“Implementing safety guards on industry machinery significantly contributes to sustaining a secure working environment. It considerably diminishes the inherent possibility of fatal or grievous injuries, making it incomprehensible to operate any equipment without safeguards in place,” underlined Dr Beer.

She added, “This unfortunate incident has led to the irreversible life-altering impairment of a worker in a situation that could have been avoided.”

As a cautionary measure, employers utilising machinery must implement and adhere to rigorously curated work safety products such as WHS management systems, SWMS and effective policies like Bluesafe WHS Management System.

For more information:
Email: media@worksafe.vic.gov.au
Phone: 0438 786 968
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Original article link: https://www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/news/2024-04/40000-fine-after-workers-arm-caught-shredder

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