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January 2020

Failure to ensure the safety of machinery

Failure to ensure the safety of machinery

VWA v The Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Limited (2013)

Facts

In the Geelong Magistrates Court, a worker had a finger severed while unblocking a cheese-shredding machine. While cleaning the machine, the worker slipped and accidentally knocked the operating switch. The chute where the worker had placed his hand did not have an interlock switch fitted, which would have prevented the machine from operating while the chute was removed.

Judgment

The Court found that the employer had failed to:

  • adequately conduct a hazard identification or risk assessment for the cheese-shredding machine; or
  • provide a safe working environment without risks to health.

The employer was found guilty and fined $35,000.

Lessons

This case highlights the need for you to:

  • identify the risks of all machinery by undertaking hazard identification and risk assessment; and
  • ensure the safety of workers by installing appropriate safety mechanisms.
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