Manumatic Industries Pty Ltd and Stanley Guthrie, a director were convicted and fined a total of $124,000 after being charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act over incidents in August and December 2009. 

In sentencing this week, Melbourne Magistrate Elizabeth Lambden said that after a prosecution arising from a workplace fatality in 2006, she would have expected safety to be part of day to day operations.

In the August 2009 incident, a worker using a pipe-bending machine designed by Mr Guthrie had his finger crushed because a light curtain, which should automatically stop the machine if a beam was broken, had been over-ridden.

In December 2009, another worker had the tip of a finger partially severed as he tried to remove a piece of metal that had just been cut by a saw. The man’s glove was caught by the saw which did not stop at the rate required by the Australian Standards.

WorkSafe told the court:

  • Manumatic did not have standardised or consistent training;
  • Keys which allowed machines to be over-ridden were kept in them which meant they were not adequately guarded;
  • Mr Guthrie failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of persons who might be affected by his acts or omissions in the workplace.  

Manumatic pleaded guilty to one charge in relation to each incident under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. It was convicted and fined $98,000 plus $8000 in costs.

Mr Guthrie pleaded guilty to one charge in relation to the August 2009 inciden under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. He was convicted and fined $26,000.

The company and Mr Guthrie were first prosecuted in December 2009 after a man died at the company’s Epping factory in August 2006. Mr Guthrie and Manumatic Industries were each convicted and fined $100,000 as a result of charges heard in the County Court.

Machine guarding issues were a feature of that matter, including the effectiveness of the laser light curtain.

WorkSafe’s General Manager of Operations, Lisa Sturzenegger, said effective machine guarding and training of workers was a fundamental obligation for all employers and needed to be a priority for directors, managers and supervisors.

“Ensuring machines are adequately guarded at all times and regularly checked to ensure safety mechanisms are not being circumvented is a basic part of running the business. It maximises productivity and is an investment in the business.

“When machines are not guarded – and that includes guards not being set up or working correctly or being over-ridden – serious consequences can happen in an instant.

 “As this case shows, the courts take these issues seriously. Apart from the effect on the individual, a conviction and fines can have significant financial consequences for companies and the people who lead them,” Ms Sturzenegger said.