News article published

Thursday 10 Oct 2019

Industries and topics

Waste and recycling
Plant hazards
Young workers

Tyre Recycling Australia Pty Ltd pleaded guilty in the Dandenong Magistrates' Court last Thursday to a single charge alleging three breaches of failing to provide a working environment that was, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.

The company was also ordered to pay $4,217 in costs.

The 18-year-old had been working on a tyre shredding machine at the Dandenong factory for less than a week in August 2018, when his right arm was dragged into a conveyer belt and crushed.

He had reached into the machine while it was still running in an attempt to brush away shredded tyre material.

The father of three young children suffered extensive damage to his right hand and forearm and spent more than three months in hospital, undergoing several reconstructive surgeries.

He requires ongoing medical treatment and it's estimated he will recover at best 30 percent movement in his arm.

The court heard there was a serious injury risk to employees from an exposed conveyor belt and rollers at the rear of the tyre shredder, because the company failed to provide fixed guarding or a permanent physical barrier.

It also failed to provide the necessary information, training and supervision to ensure employees did not approach the exposed danger areas while the machine was running.

Tyre Recycling Australia has since installed a combination of guarding and perimeter fencing on the tyre shredder, including interlocked gate access.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said there was no excuse for allowing workers to risk their health and safety using unguarded machinery, or clearing or cleaning machinery that is not switched off.

"This worker has been left with permanent injuries that could have been avoided if appropriate guarding or training had been in place," Ms Nielsen said.

"This incident will also have a life-long impact on his young family and is a tragic reminder of why employers must ensure the safety of their workers is always their first priority."

To prevent entrapment employers should:

  • Fit gates or guards to machinery to prevent access to in-running nip points and other moving parts.
  • Where required, fit interlock devices to prevent machines from starting if an access point is open, or to stop them if an access point is opened while running.
  • Train staff in the safe operation of machines and equipment and provide written procedures in the worker's first language.
  • Place signs on or near a machine to alert employees to the dangers of operating it.
  • Consider whether hair, clothing, gloves, neckties, jewellery, cleaning brushes, or other materials can become entangled.
  • Regularly service and inspect machines and equipment.

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