A grain cooperative has been fined $ 37,500 plus $ 3577 in costs over insufficient guarding causing a serious hand injury to a worker.
The cooperative pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and, by that failure, causing serious harm to an employee, and was fined in the Southern Cross Magistrates Court last week.
The female worker was helping to move a stacker/loader at the Bulk Handling Group’s grain terminal in Bodallin in February 2014 when her right hand fell onto the rail and the tripper wheel ran over it.
Her hand was injured, resulting in three surgeries. Her little finger was amputated and was left with no feeling in her ring finger leading to difficulty in gripping objects.
The tripper wheel was guarded, but the guard was upside down and incorrectly fitted on the wrong side of the wheel, so was deficient in both design and placement.
“Guarding of the dangerous moving parts of machinery is such a basic and easy precaution to take, and employers need to take a good hard look at the guarding situation and stop exposing employees to the risk of injury,” said DMIRS Acting Deputy Director General Safety Simon Ridge.
“Subsequent to this incident, the employer installed new guards on all their tripper wheels. But if this had been done earlier, this incident would not have occurred and the employee involved would have been spared a great deal of suffering.
“The fact is that CBH was well aware of the problem with the old guards, but did not take action to remedy the situation until months after this incident.
“This case should serve as a reminder to all employers of the importance of guarding the moving parts of machinery as part of fulfilling their obligation to provide and maintain a safe work environment for employees.”
More information on machinery guarding can be obtained at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.
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