Recycling company fined $70K following baler hand amputation - 7.10.21

Recycling business SKM Services Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $70,000 after a worker’s hand was amputated at a Coolaroo factory. The company was charged with failing, as far as was reasonably practicable, to provide a safe workplace, and sentenced in Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on 22 September. The incident occurred on 24 October 2014, when a 36-year-old worker’s right hand was amputated in a baler used to crush aluminium recycling into a cube. The worker was injured while strapping bales of crushed aluminium near the machine.

An investigation by WorkSafe Victoria found that the company had failed to reduce risks to workers’ safety by not having a guard fitted to the machine to prevent access to the bale exit point. 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. Staff should also be trained in the safe operation of machines and equipment, with written procedures provided in the worker’s first language.

Safe operating procedures should also be developed and implemented, in consultation with employees and health and safety representatives. Employers should ensure safety guards and gates are compliant and fixed to machines at all times, with machines and equipment serviced and maintained regularly. WorkSafe Victoria Executive Director of Health and Safety Andrew Keen said WorkSafe would not hesitate to prosecute businesses that disregard their responsibility to provide a safe workplace, and urged businesses to do everything reasonably possible to keep workplaces safe and protect workers from the risk of serious injury or death.

“Sadly, as a result of this incident, a worker has suffered severe injury with lifelong consequences. There is no excuse for employers who risk workers’ safety by ignoring their health and safety obligations,” Keen said.

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