Company convicted after worker maimed

9 December 2016

A Geelong packing and supply business was this week convicted and fined $26,000 in the Geelong Magistrates Court following an incident in which a worker had all of the skin from his right hand ripped off by a machine.

J.T.Dixon Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to two breaches of the 2004 OHS Act for failing to provide a safe working environment and failing to provide and maintain plant that was safe and without risks to health. It was also ordered to pay costs of $3386.

The court heard that the company operated a packing and industrial supply business and conducted work involving the use of a machine that printed on, glued, cut and folded cardboard boxes.

On 1 February this year, a worker was operating the machine alongside a manager. The machine required three people to operate and could run about 100 boxes through the process in one minute.  The court heard that the men noticed an issue with the print quality on the boxes and while it was still in operation both climbed onto the machine to identify the reason.

The manager then climbed off the machine to speak with a colleague. The court heard that the worker reached down to touch the ink to see whether it was wet or dry. Upon doing so his right hand became caught in a nip point of rollers on the machine and was de-gloved as he pulled it free.

The worker also lost his little finger and the top of his middle finger.

In hospital, the injured worker had a graft taken from his thigh to replace the skin on the back of his hand. He has undergone seven surgeries.

The court heard that there was no guard on the machine to prevent workers coming into contact with the rotating rollers which created a pinch point and posed a risk of injury.

WorkSafe Executive Director Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said it was an incident that shouldn’t have happened.

“This worker has suffered severe damage to his hand in a horrifying incident because there wasn't appropriate guarding on this machine,” Ms Williams said.

“It is absolutely critical that machinery has guarding to control the risks and prevent injuries. Employers have a clear responsibility to ensure the right controls are in place at their workplaces and if this is not done they will face the consequences.

“A safety checklist can prevent these kinds of awful incidents. This includes ensuring machinery is properly guarded and safety interlocks are regularly checked before operating, that the machine only operates with guarding attached, operator controls are easily accessible and clearly labelled and that warning lights and alarms are working.

“But tragically, the consequences of this incident will last this worker a lifetime.”

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