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WorkSafe Victoria warns workers to ‘watch their fingers’

WorkSafe Victoria has released 2022 injury statistics, which show workplace amputation injuries are a major risk in Victorian workplaces. It has prompted the regulator to warn employers to ensure all machinery is properly guarded and operated safely to avoid these injuries.

The injury statistics reveal that in 2022:

  • 137 claims for workplace amputation injuries were accepted;
  • more than 150 body parts were amputated in Victorian workplaces, including at least 127 fingers or thumbs;
  • digits caught or crushed in machinery or severed while using a saw accounted for about one-third of all amputation claims;
  • the manufacturing sector had the most amputations of all sectors, accounting for 45% of claims;
  • the construction sector accounted for 15% of claims; and
  • labourers were most at risk, with 51 accepted claims, followed by tradies with 37, and production and transport workers with 31.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said, "The staggering number of workers who have lost limbs and digits from preventable incidents is simply unacceptable. No one should suffer such horrific, life-changing injuries at work.

"Employers need to make sure safety guards are fixed to machines at all times, and that staff are appropriately trained and supervised to undertake all tasks safely.

"We will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who fails to provide a safe and healthy workplace."

According to WorkSafe Victoria, last year fines and court costs totalling $256,094 were imposed by the courts against companies in eight WorkSafe prosecutions after workers sustained amputations.

As of 10 January 2023, charges against nine other Victorian employers for alleged breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) that resulted in amputations were before the courts and WorkSafe was investigating 24 matters involving amputations.

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