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Worker loses arm in shredding accident

A Melbourne company has been convicted and fined $120,000, plus $4,725 costs for failing to take reasonably practicable steps that would have prevented one of its workers from losing their whole left arm.

The worker at AAZ Recycling and Waste Management Pty Ltd, which is now insolvent, attempted to unblock an object that had become trapped in the conveyor of a shredder machine.

To do this, he climbed an A-frame ladder and attempted to use a stick to remove the blockage. The worker then slipped from the ladder and fell towards the shredder’s in-feed conveyor belt.

The stick and his left hand became caught in the conveyor’s in-running nip point, which caused his left arm to be dragged into the conveyor belt and tail drum, which amputated his arm from the shoulder.

The injured worker had to get help from a co-worker to press the emergency stop button, that was located about 16 metres away from where the incident occurred.

In the ex parte hearing, Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court found that the employer could have taken a number of reasonably practicable measures to eliminate or reduce the health and safety risks to its workers, which it failed to do.

These measures included:

  • installing guarding on the belt and tail drum section of the conveyor;
  • installing emergency stop buttons in that area of the conveyor;
  • documenting plant isolation procedures;
  • providing adequate instructions, training and safety information; and
  • supervising workers to ensure that the task was not undertaken without switching off and isolating the shredder beforehand.
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