Timber company fined after worker was injured from unguarded machinery

A South Eastern timber processing company has been fined more than $26,000 by the Industrial Court after a worker was injured by unguarded machinery.

The company already pleaded guilty to breaching section 19 (1) of the Occupational Health Safety and Welfare Act 1986 when it failed to provide and maintain plant in a safe condition.

SafeWork SA prosecuted the company after it investigated an incident in December 2010.

According to a news release by SafeWork SA, the victim tried to relieve a jam in the in-feed section when his fingers and hand were accidentally caught. He was off from work for about three months, but has since returned to work.

The court heard that while the company faced a previous conviction for a safety breach, it was already working on upgrading the safety of its machines, however Magistrate Michael Ardlie also heard that the problem with the machine in question was already identified nearly a year before the incident.

“It is unfortunate that the machine was one of the last to be modified by the introduction of extended guarding and an interlock device,” said Magistrate Ardlie in his decision on the penalty delivered on 19 January.

The company was fined $26,250 plus costs following a discount of 25 percent to acknowledge the early guilty plea, cooperation, contrition and remedial measures.

“Contact with moving parts is a major cause of workplace injury and insufficient guarding of moving parts has long been recognised as a key factor in such incidents,” said SafeWork SA Acting Executive Director, Marie Boland.

“That said, identifying a safety shortcoming is only part of the solution and employers need to prioritise such issues and fix them as promptly as possible.”

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