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January 2020

Crushed fingers cost company more than $110,000

Crushed fingers cost company more than $110,000

SafeWork NSW v Duct Australia Pty Ltd (2018)

Facts

Duct Australia Pty Limited (the Company) was involved in the fabrication of sheet metal products.

An employee of the Company was instructed to fold channels in sheet metal using a 100-tonne capacity press. The channels were not folding at the correct angles and the supervisor failed to rectify this issue.

The employee had left his hands under the ram and die, which descended and crushed his fingers. The employee subsequently required partial amputation of four of his fingers.

The Company did not have a documented safe operating procedure for the operation of the press, and training for the press was delivered verbally and was inadequate. The Company also failed to ensure that the light curtain on the press was adjusted for the correct size of metal being worked on, in order to prevent the risk from arising.

Judgment

The Company pleaded guilty to failing to comply with its duty under section 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) by exposing the employee to a risk of serious injury or death.

The Company was convicted and fined $112,500 plus costs.

Lessons

Extra caution must be taken when the foreseeability of risk is high. This case is a reminder to prepare and implement a written safe working procedure, and ensure all workers are trained and assessed as competent before they commence work.

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