$40K fine over crush injury, degloving incident

$40K fine over crush injury, degloving incident

A company has appeared in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court, Queensland, for failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers, resulting in exposure to the risk of death or serious injury.The charge relates to an incident in 2018.

The defendant is the operator of a business that rolls sheet metal, using large machinery. At the time of the incident, there were two plate rollers on-site, one inside the factory, and a second machine, known as a DAVI, was outside the factory.

Workers who were tasked with cleaning the machine did so by spraying kerosene over the rollers and wiping them clean. The bottom two rollers could be lowered, offering a large enough space for a person to fit and removing any pinch points. It was heard that workers often bypassed the safety controls on the machine by hooking a piece of wire around the hold-to-run control button.

On June 6, 2018, a worker was tasked with cleaning the DAVI machine, despite only being shown how to clean it once before in the two months he had been employed and never having completed the task before. The worker bypassed the DAVI machine’s hold-to-run control so that he could clean the rollers as they turned.

Partway through cleaning, he approached his supervisor as to whether he could move the top roller to make larger space, as was done on the machine that was inside the factory. The supervisor said that the machine should not be turned on while cleaning. The worker returned to cleaning the machine with the rollers moving, and his arm was drawn into the machine. His hand and arm were crushed and he suffered degloving injuries up to his elbow.

In the following investigation by WHS Queensland, it was found that the company did not have any documented procedures for the cleaning process. When investigators spoke with employees, it was found that the “correct” process involved cleaning the machines section by section, turning the machine on once a section had been cleaned to move onto the next part.

Magistrate Clare Kelly accepted the guilty plea on the basis that the company had failed to supervise the worker, and who had previously been directed to clean the machine while it was moving. She also acknowledged that while the worker did not have adequate experience in cleaning the machines, he disobeyed two clear instructions not to turn the machine on before or during the cleaning process.

Magistrate Kelly also noted the severity of the worker’s injuries, which needed several surgeries.

In handing down the fine, she noted that deterrence and punishment were factors, but no conviction was recorded. The company was fined $40,000 plus court costs.

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