Accent Management Services Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court last Thursday after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to provide or maintain a safe working environment.
The company was fined, without conviction, and also ordered to pay $4,236 in costs.
In November 2020, the worker was using an electric mitre saw to cut lengths of aluminium, which he held steady by hand.
After making a cut, the worker began lifting the saw with his right hand, but not enough for the retractable guard to have moved fully back over the rotating blade.
As the worker simultaneously reached underneath the saw with his left hand, he made contact with the rotating blade, amputating four fingers.
The injured worker was taken to hospital where all but one of his amputated fingers were reattached.
A WorkSafe investigation found that although the saw was fitted with a pneumatic clamping system to hold aluminium sheets and reduce the risk of bodily contact with the blade, it had become common practice for workers not to use the clamps when making 90-degree cuts.
The court heard it was reasonably practicable for the company to have provided a system of work that required workers to use the pneumatic clamps and timber shims to secure the sheets for all cuts of aluminium when using the saw, and to provide instruction and training to workers on the use of the clamps and shims.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it was up to employers to ensure workers were appropriately trained and using machinery correctly.
“No one should have to suffer such awful injuries at work, there are simply no excuses,” Dr Beer said.
“Safety measures, such as pneumatic clamps in this case, are only effective if employers ensure their workers are properly trained and the equipment is actually being used as intended.”
To manage risks when working with machinery and plant, employers should:
- Identify hazards, assess the risks associated with them, and eliminate or control those risks by isolating them or using an alternative.
- Train staff in the safe operation of machines and equipment and provide written procedures in the worker's first language.
- Develop and implement safe operating procedures in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives.
- Ensure safety guards and gates are compliant and fixed to machines at all times.
- Regularly service and inspect machines and equipment.
- Place signs on or near a machine to alert employees of the dangers of operating it.