Huge penalty and injury to worker for unguarded machine could have been avoided through an effective safety management plan
Last month the Industrial Court of SA handed down an initial fine of $185,000 to an earth moving company in Mt Gambier, after one of their workers had their arm amputated.
The worker, at Gambier Earth Movers, had been operating a soil screening plant and tripped, causing his right arm to get caught in an unguarded tail drum. The machine had two warning signs fixed to the side of the machine with the machine’s controls, stating “Hazardous nip-points behind guard doors may cause serious injury. STOP machine before guard doors are opened.” And yet no guards were fitted to the machine at the time of the offence
Magistrate Leischke said the incident was an “extremely serious breach of basic workplace safety laws and was entirely foreseeable”.
Gambier Earth Movers were found guilty of failing to comply with providing a primary duty of care and for failing to comply with their health and safety duty, thereby exposing an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness. After entering an early guilty plea, the fine was reduced to $111,000 (plus court fees).
This case shows the importance of continually reviewing your hazards and ensuring that risks are either eliminated or controlled.