Guard removal causes arm injury to worker
WorkSafe Victoria v Shred-X Pty Ltd (2016)
Shred-X Pty Ltd (Company) processes paper and waste products for recycling. On 25 March 2015, an employee of the Company was sorting paper that was travelling on a moving conveyor belt. The conveyor had a slide guard at the point where the roller and conveyor met to prevent access to the nip point created by this meeting.
If the guard was removed, there was a risk of serious injury to workers.
On the day of the incident, paper became stuck in the nip point of the conveyor belt. To remove the jam, the worker slid off the guard and reached into the nip point to dislodge the paper. When she put her hand inside the guarded area, the glove she was wearing became entangled in the conveyor and pulled her arm into the nip point. She sustained injuries to her arm.
The Court found that Company workers had been generally instructed not to remove guards from machines. However, the Court found the Company had failed to ensure the use of an interlock device that would have removed the risk of injury.
The Company was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $20,000.
Businesses must ensure plant is safe for use, so that workers are not exposed to nip or crush injuries if guards are removed. All levels of risk controls should be implemented where practicable, including interlock devices to ensure that the plant is not powered or operational when guards are not in place.
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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