WorkSafe has entered into an enforceable undertaking with a waste management company after an employee reached into a machine.  The machine was crushing and baling up cans when the employee noticed a piece of plastic in the waste and reached in the machine to remove the plastic.  Unfortunately the machine closed on his hand causing a serious injury which required surgery and time off work.  Luckily the employee has not suffered any long term affects except for scarring.

The employer accepted that a lack of guards on the machine to prevent employees placing their hands in it during operation was a serious failure. 

The company has agreed to develop new standard operating procedures for its machinery and to engage external health and safety experts to advise it.  It will also provide further health and safety training to its staff and will join both the Waste Management Institute and the Institute of Safety Management and attend their conferences and professional development days.  It is also to commission an article on the issue for safety magazines and sponsor health and safety programmes in the local community, including producing an educational video.  In addition staff members will visit other work sites to discuss the accident and health and safety with other employers using similar machinery.

The total cost of these measures exceeds $74,000.  The company had no previous convictions but a failure to identify the risk of employees putting their hand into a machine during its operation was a serious failure in its risk identification procedures.

Alan Knowsley
Health & Safety Lawyer