Packaging maker fined $30,000 after worker's hand crushed

A company that manufactures plastic food packaging in Shepparton has been fined $30,000 after a maintenance fitter's hand was crushed in a machine in 2020.


SCS Packaging Pty Ltd was convicted and fined in the Shepparton Magistrates' Court last week after earlier pleading guilty to failing to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risks to health.

It was also ordered to pay costs of $3,744.

The court heard that in September 2020, a maintenance fitter was engaged to repair a thermoforming machine used to heat up and mould plastic sheets.

After opening a sliding access panel the worker placed his right hand into the machine where it was crushed by a moving part.

The worker required surgery after sustaining two broken fingers, tendon and nerve damage.

A WorkSafe investigation found that an interlock guard installed on the machine's access panel was not functioning and had been bypassed at the time of the incident. However, it was reasonably practicable for SCS Packaging to ensure an isolation procedure, such as a "lock out, tag out" system, was used when access to the danger area was required.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said employers have a legal responsibility to identify and control the risks associated with the use of machinery.

"This awful incident would have been easily avoided if the company had communicated to workers the need to follow an isolation procedure," Dr Beer said.

"Guidance in relation to properly guarding machinery is widely available and WorkSafe won't hesitate to prosecute employers who ignore it."

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.