Building products manufacturer fined $45,000 over amputation of worker’s fingers
A Kewdale building products manufacturer has been fined $45,000 (plus more than $3500 in costs) over an incident in which a supervisor had two fingers severed by a fly wheel press.
Industrial Progress Corporation – trading as Roofmart WA – pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe workplace and, by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee, and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court on Monday.
Roofmart manufactures steel building products including door frames, rainwater goods and roller doors and operates a number of machines in its Kewdale workplace, including the fly wheel press involved in this incident.
In February 2010, a supervisor at Roofmart was showing a process worker on his first day on the job how to use the press to make gutter clips. The supervisor had almost 20 years’ experience in the workplace, was a safety and health representative and regularly trained new employees.
Despite the supervisor’s awareness of instructions for the use of the machine – including always wearing safety gloves, ensuring guards were in place and keeping hands away from working tools – he raised the machine’s finger guards and reached in with bare hands to dislodge a piece of metal that had become wedged in the die.
As a result of a misunderstanding between the supervisor and the worker being trained, the worker depressed the foot pedal while the supervisor’s hand was in the press. The ram came down, trapping the supervisor’s right hand and severing his index and middle fingers.
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch said today the case was yet another disappointing example of failing to provide workers with adequate protection from the moving parts of machinery.
“In this case, protection from the moving parts of the machinery was provided, but the supervisor was able to easily bypass the safety measures and this resulted in the loss of the man’s fingers,” Mr McCulloch said.
“This company was fined $35,000 in September 2010 over a similar guarding issue, so it appears they did not learn from their previous conviction.
“This is the twentieth time WorkSafe has successfully prosecuted an employer over a guarding issue in the past two years – a shameful record for WA industry.
“It seems that employers are just not getting the message that guarding is absolutely essential and that it is never safe to allow the moving parts of machinery to remain operational when workers may have to make adjustments or perform maintenance.
“It is also worth reminding workers that they too have responsibility for their own safety and the safety of those around them, and they should not be looking to take shortcuts by bypassing safety measures.
“Many workers have been killed and many more have been permanently maimed when equipment or machinery they were working on has been activated, so it’s absolutely crucial that safe systems of work are in place.
“Guarding of the dangerous moving parts of machinery is such a basic and easy precaution to take, and it really is time for employers to take a good hard look at the guarding situation and stop exposing employees to the risk of injury or death.”
Further information on machinery guarding and safe systems of work can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/.
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