Flooring installer fined $5000 over injury to apprentice

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A flooring installer has been fined $5000 after a labour hire apprentice suffered serious cuts to his hand while using an unguarded saw.

James Dodds – trading as Jaws Flooring – pleaded to guilty to failing to provide a safe work environment for a labour hire worker and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court last week.

In August 2012, Jaws Flooring was constructing a floating timber floor at a residential dwelling in Ascot.  The job required reducing the width of the floorboards adjacent to the walls, a practice commonly known in the industry as “ripping”.

A table saw was being used to rip the floorboards.  A table saw is an electric saw fitted to the underside of a table with the saw blade protruding through a gap in the table.

The table saw being used in this case came with a guard to be fitted on top of the table, but Mr Dodds did not fit the guard because he believed it restricted the ability to cut the boards on a curve.

A labour hire apprentice carpenter was shown how to use the table saw by the leading hand.  He was instructed to push the floorboards through the saw until they were three-quarters of the way through, then turn the board around to cut the last quarter so he did not get close to the blade.

The apprentice had ripped one of the floorboards to the three-quarter mark when the board started to bounce on the saw table.  He put his hand on top of the board to stop it from bouncing.

The saw bit down on the wood and pulled his right hand into the saw blade, resulting in lacerations to the thumb, index and middle fingers of his right hand and tendon damage.

WorkSafe Director Chris Kirwin said the case should serve as a warning to ensure hazardous machines were guarded and to provide proper training to young workers, especially those employed under labour hire arrangements.

“Allowing a worker to be exposed to an open unguarded blade like this is simply a disaster waiting to happen,” Mr Kirwin said.

“This hazard is common knowledge in the construction industry and all workers exposed to it are at risk of suffering serious injuries such as the loss of fingers.  This young man was fortunate that his fingers were not amputated in this incident.

“It was practicable for Mr Dodds to have fitted the guard to the table saw or to have used a far safer jigsaw to cut the boards, as he did have jigsaws available.

“The case is also a reminder that the training and instruction of young apprentices under labour hire arrangements must be ensured by both the labour hire company and the host employer.

“Mr Dodds was responsible for the apprentice, and he did not make his workers’ safety and health the first priority by guarding the saw and ensuring safe work practices were in place.”

Further information on machinery guarding and responsibilities under labour hire arrangements can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.

Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only)


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Media release
21 Aug 2015

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