The following is an abridgement of an announcement originally published on the Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety website.
A worker at a cardboard box factory in O’Connor had parts of two fingers severed when he was clearing a jam in a machine that was still running. His employer, a cardboard box company, was fined $275,000 for failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment.
In January 2020, a worker was operating a machine that makes cardboard products such as pizza boxes. The machine had jammed five times that morning, and the worker was trying to fix the fifth jam. He pushed a blank card into the feed gate of the machine, but the card and his hand were dragged into the feed rolls. Another worker stopped the machine, but it was too late to save the worker’s fingers.
WorkSafe investigated the incident and found that the company had written procedures in place to stop the machine and clear blockages safely, but the company did not train and assess the workers according to these procedures. The worker who was injured and the worker who was helping him had not seen the Standard Work Procedure for the machine and did not know how to deal with jams on the feeder end of the machine. [Learn how an integrated training matrix can seal the gaps in an organisation's training programs]
The company pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $275,000 (and ordered to pay $8500 in costs) in the Fremantle Magistrates Court.
Acting WorkSafe Commissioner Sally North said that the case was a reminder of the importance of having and following safety procedures for machinery.
“Following this incident, [the company] added a plastic strip to the infeed of the machine to reduce the risk of hands entering and installed three engineering and electrical controls to further reduce the risks.
“However the company had previously failed to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure their employees were not exposed to hazards and this resulted in permanent injury to a worker.”
She also recommended reading WorkSafe’s code of practice for managing risks of plant in the workplace.
Cardboard box company fined $275,000 over finger injuries by Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety, 8th November, 2023.