Prevent injuries from bread-slicing machines

Bakery workers risk serious injuries, including amputations, if they become caught in bread-slicing machines. Guidance on this page can help employers control the risks to employees using bread-slicing machines.


Bread-slicing machines can cut and crush

Bread-slicing machines can cut or crush hands and fingers. In one instance, a bread-slicing machine severed a bakery worker’s finger when he attempted to adjust the outfeed side of the machine. The blades severed the worker’s finger as he attempted to pull his hand from the machine.

Your legal duties

Employers, self-employed persons, employees, designers, manufacturers and suppliers all have legal obligations to workplace safety under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations).

Find out about your occupational health and safety obligations relating to plant on WorkSafe's Plant and your legal duties page.

How to control risks from bread-slicing machines

Employers must eliminate, so far as is reasonably practicable, health and safety risks in the workplace, including risks from bread-slicing machines. If they can't eliminate the risks, employers must reduce the risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

Consider the following when selecting risk control measures for bread-slicing machines:

  • use a bread-slicing machine with safety guards or barriers that do not allow access to the slicing blades
  • ensure the machine has safety devices, such as a stop and emergency stop button, and that employees use the safety devices when necessary
    • ideally, the emergency stop will not be hand-operated
  • ensure the machine is not left unattended while switched on
  • make sure only one person uses the machine at a time and that no-one stands behind the person using the machine
  • do not clean or adjust the machine without first isolating the machine from its power source
  • clean and maintain the machine in line with the manufacturer's instructions
  • ensure the bread-slicing machine is not used as a worktop or bench
  • make sure a competent person regularly inspects the machine
  • provide employees with adequate supervision and training
  • make sure only trained employees use the machine
  • provide written operating instructions to employees and keep a copy of the instructions near the machine
  • make sure employees do not wear loose-fitting clothing or clothing with loose sleeves
  • make sure employees use protective gloves for cleaning and maintenance

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