Manufacturer fined $280,000 after fatal machine crush
A metal manufacturing company has been convicted and fined $280,000 after a machine operator died at its Epping factory in February 2021.
Published:04 July 2023
Rapid Perforating Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court today after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing, as far as was reasonably practicable, to provide or maintain plant that was safe and without risks to health.
The court heard the worker, who had been working at the factory for a month, was operating a turret punch – a large machine used to perforate sheets of metal.
Co-workers found the worker pinned between the machine's travelling carriage, which moved metal sheets around the turret, and one of two tables placed at the front of the machine and bolted to the ground to support the sheet metal as it slid out.
The man died at the scene with severe crush injuries to his torso and arms.
A WorkSafe investigation found a lack of guarding around the danger area presented an immediate health and safety risk, and the fixed table created a trapping space with the moving carriage.
The court found it was reasonably practicable for Rapid Perforating to have installed a presence-sensing system, such as a light curtain, to the front of the turret punch and physical barriers with designated access points at the rear, or a presence-sensing system that encompassed the entire perimeter of the machine.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said workers would continue to die or suffer horrific injuries while employers fail in their duty to ensure machinery is appropriately guarded.
"This worker was only 46 when his life was cut short due to a lack of guarding," Dr Beer said.
"Last year 311 manufacturing workers were injured seriously enough in incidents involving machinery to make a workers compensation claim. So far this year there have been 142 such claims."
"WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute duty holders who fall short of their obligation to keep their workplaces safe."
To manage risks when working with machinery 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.