An employer has been fined for failing to maintain a safe workplace and exposing employees to a risk of serious injury after an employee attempted to fix a misfeed in a machine. The employee climbed on top of the frame of the machine over a bath of extremely hot liquid metal where he slipped and suffered serious burns.

The misfeed could have been fixed by following much safer processes, however, the employer had not provided an operation manual for the machine.

Following the incident the employer discovered that the same employee had engaged in same type of action one week earlier. The employer said that had they known about the earlier instance, formal disciplinary proceedings would have taken place.

The Judge ordered a $600,000 fine to represent the medium/high level of culpability of the employer. However, the fine was reduced to reflect the payments of reparation which the employer had already made as well as the employer’s early guilty plea.

While the Court took into account the employer’s actions following the incident by reducing the fine, it is more cost effective to have adequate safety measures in place before an incident such as this occurs.

Alan Knowsley 
Employment Lawyer