Engineering company fined $200,000 over worker injury

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A South Bayswater engineering company has been fined $200,000 (and ordered to pay $3320.50 in costs) over an incident in which a worker’s arm was amputated below the elbow.

B&Y Precision Engineering Pty Ltd (trading as De Cassan Industries) pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and was fined in the Armadale Magistrates Court last week.

In October 2018, an employee at B&Y was instructed to polish a steel shaft to reduce its diameter so a bearing could be slid onto it.

The task was to be achieved by attaching the shaft to a manual lathe, half-circling a length of emery cloth around the shaft and holding the ends of the cloth in each hand while the shaft rotated.

The worker put on gloves to handle the shaft because it was rough and sharp, and so the rusted sections did not cut his hands. He did not remove the gloves when he finished handling the shaft and began polishing on the lathe.

After a short time, the emery cloth and the glove on the worker’s left hand became entangled in the rotating shaft of the lathe and he was drawn in. His left arm was amputated just below the elbow, and he suffered skull fractures and ligament damage to his neck.

WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner Darren Kavanagh said the case provided a reminder that safe work practices should be in place, beginning with identification of hazards.

“The potential risk involved in using gloves and a length of emery cloth for polishing on manual lathes where either the gloves or cloth could become caught in the rotating lathe had not been identified or assessed,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“B&Y had not conducted any risk assessments in relation to polishing on manual lathes and there were no verbal or written procedures in place prohibiting the wearing of gloves. This was coupled with a lack of adequate training for workers performing this task.

“New safety measures were put into place after this incident, sadly too late for the worker who suffered a devastating and permanent injury.

“B&Y conducted a risk assessment after the incident, then created written procedures that included prohibiting the wearing of gloves when working with lathes. Safety signage was then installed close to the lathes.

“This case reinforces the fact that risk assessments should be conducted at every workplace, and staff appropriately inducted and trained in the resulting safe systems of work.”

Media Contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media queries only).

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Media release
20 Dec 2021

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