Meat processing company fined $10,000 over amputated finger

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A Palmyra company has been fined $10,000 over an incident that resulted in the amputation of part of an employee's finger.

D'Orsogna Limited pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment, and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court last Wednesday.

In February 2010, a labourer at D'Orsogna was operating a mincing machine that had a hopper at the top into which meat was fed to be minced.

The labourer had placed 200kg of meat onto a lifting hoist, from which it was dropped into the hopper, a large metal chute that directs the meat into the mincers.

He started the machine and climbed onto a stepladder beside the machine to check the levels of meat going down the hopper.

He noticed that the meat was only going half way down the hopper and was not reaching the mincing area, so he used his right hand to push the meat down.

His right ring finger became stuck in the mincing area and he suffered injuries that required his finger to be amputated at the first knuckle.

After the incident, the employer removed the stepladder from use and installed a safety step to access the hopper which incorporates a safety switch that prevents the mincer from operating when someone is standing on the step.

WorkSafe Acting Executive Director Ian Munns said today the case was yet another disappointing example of failure to provide workers with adequate protection from the moving parts of machinery.

"It's disappointing that the message evidently still has not gotten through 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," Mr Munns said.

"The court heard that it was reasonably practicable for the company to have either installed guards on the feed hopper of the mincer or installed a safety switch on the machine.

"Subsequent to this incident, the employer installed a safe system of work for this mincer that cost less than $3000 – far less than the total $11,548 the company ended up paying in a fine and costs.

"The machine was made safer too late for the injured worker, who could have been spared the permanent injury he suffered.

"Many workers have been seriously injured or killed 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's disappointing that we continue to see cases where these simple measures are not taken."

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.

Media contact:
Caroline De Vaney
9327 8744 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only).
caroline.devaney@commerce.wa.gov.au
Follow @WorkSafeWA on Twitter.

WorkSafe
Media release
06 Nov 2012

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