Finger injury caused by inadequate machine guarding
WorkSafe Victoria v Popina (Vic) Pty Ltd (2016)
Popina, a manufacturer and supplier of cereal and other snacks, had a plant called the ‘4 Screw Mixer’. This machine contained four rotating screw augers inside a hopper, which mixes wet product and feeds it onto a conveyor leading to the oven.
In July 2015, a worker was injured when he reached into the hopper between the out-feed area and conveyor belt to remove a clump of product. The worker’s finger was severed from the top knuckle.
The Court found there was a risk of entrapment, entanglement and crushing to workers as access to the dangerous area of the plant (i.e. the four moving auger screws) had not been removed. It was found that Popina failed to adequately guard the machine because multiple areas of the plant allowed access to the moving auger screws.
The Court determined that the company failed to provide a safe system of work in relation to its failure to conduct a risk assessment of the auger screws. Popina pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a fine of $30,000 with conviction.
Employers must ensure that a safe system of work is made available to all workers, through the use of risk assessments and removal of access to dangerous areas on site.
Please note: Case law is reported as correct and current at time of publishing. Be aware that cases in lower courts may be appealed and decisions subsequently overturned.
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